Upmarket fashion retailer Hobbs set for sale

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 | BUSINESS SALE

A fashion retailer which counts the Royal Family among its customers is to go on sale for around £80 million as it battles turbulent times.

The Times reported that Hobbs, a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, is to be put on the block by 3i, the venture capital house which has owned the retailer for around a decade.

City sources say the bank is close to appointing NM Rothschild to handle the sale, the paper added.

Hobbs, which sells women’s clothing, shoes and accessories, was founded in London in 1981 by husband-and-wife team Yoram and Marilyn Anselm. The company has an in-house design team in the UK as well as a footwear factory in Italy.

The retailer has 140 stores in the UK and Ireland but has struggled of late. 3i is set to make a loss on its investment in the company, which made £1.4 million profit on turnover of £104.4 million in the 12 months to January 2016.

This is despite an emergency strategic review a few years ago and the appointment of chief executive Meg Lustman, brought in to lead a turnaround.

The Business Sale Report reported back in 2012 that 3i were then grooming Hobbs for imminent sale, with an expected price tag of between £200m and £250m. Hobbs was at the time performing much better than other retailers, and once could surmise that 3i has made a classic investing mistake in missing the peak selling opportunity and then failing to cut losses as the value of its asset declined.

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