Jan 9, 2017
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Hobbs rumoured to be for sale at £31m less than current owner paid

Jan 9, 2017

Fresh from news that Agent Provocateur is up for sale, is another 3i investment on the block too? It could be, with a newspaper saying on Sunday that womenswear chain Hobbs is to be sold. Hobbs and 3i have so far not commented.

Hobbs' turnaround is progressing but profits are stil low - Hobbs

The middle market fashion brand that sells apparel, footwear and accessories, has been owned by 3i for nearly 14 years and the Sunday Times said the investment giant is on the verge of hiring NM Rothschild to handle an auction with an asking price rumoured to be around £80m.

3i, which also owns Go Outdoors, previously tried to sell the business in 2013 but Hobbs was struggling at the time and a turnaround programme for the chain was launched in 2014. The owners drafted in a new chairman, Phil Wrigley (formerly of New Look), and CEO Meg Lustman, who previously ran the Warehouse chain.

Their turnaround efforts have yielded results and with 140 stores across the UK, last summer Hobbs announced an earnings increase in the year to January 30 2016 and a new push for international growth. The company currently has non-UK stores and concessions in Ireland, Sweden, Germany and the US.

Its pre-tax profit in that year rose 18% to £7.7m as margins improved. However, it is still far from being a money-making machine and net profit after taxes in period was just £1.4m on a turnover of £104.4m.

Analysts said 3i would be likely to make a loss on its investment having originally paid £111m for the 26-year-old retailer.

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