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Ditching NW3 sub-brand was easy decision for Hobbs

Hobbs’ move to phase out its NW3 sub-brand as part of the business’s turnaround plan was an “easy and obvious” decision, according to chairman Phil Wrigley.

The autumn 14 range will be the last collection from the younger-focused NW3, and features knitwear and animal prints.

Former New Look chief Wrigley told Drapers the action was taken as a result of customer feedback, after the sub-brand’s performance dropped over the past few seasons. He refused to reveal performance figures. The decision came as part of a review of the business that was started when Wrigley joined at the beginning of the year.

“NW3 served its purpose well in a time when we were trying to explore that younger shopper and the decision to close it was driven by our customers. The performance of the range has been slipping as it became less differentiated from Hobbs London. The two things were becoming one and the same - it was an increasing struggle,” he added.

Some 90% of NW3 shoppers were also Hobbs customers, according to Wrigley, with most of the remaining 10% buying size six in NW3, as Hobbs’ sizes start at size eight. Hobbs will now incorporate size six into its spring 15 collection.

Hobbs will also bring some of the “younger, fun” designs from NW3 into the Hobbs London range from next season, such as houndstooth and cat prints.

“We were deliberately mitigating some of the younger prints from Hobbs because of NW3 so our design team are delighted that they are able to incorporate them from now on,” Wrigley added.

Both of the NW3 stores - in London’s Spitalfields and Westfield London - have now closed and staff have been deployed to Hobbs stores. The range was also sold in larger Hobbs stores.

Wrigley was parachuted into the business in January after a dismal Christmas trading period led to Hobbs suffering a £1.9m loss in 2013, according to accounts published last month.

Meg Lustman, who previously ran the John Lewis womenswear department, started at Hobbs last week as chief executive and will be working alongside Wrigley.

Lustman will spend the next couple of weeks in an induction programme visiting Hobbs stores across the UK.

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