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Exclusive: Meg Lustman to exit Hobbs amid group shake-up

Hobbs chief executive Meg Lustman is stepping down from her role in January, Drapers can exclusively reveal.

Lustman, who joined Hobbs as CEO in 2014, is leaving to explore non-executive positions in the retail sector.

Hobbs was acquired by TFG London in November 2017. TFG London said Hobbs’ integration into the group, strong sales and margin growth over the last year were “testament” to Lustman and the broader team.

Following Lustman’s departure, the group is appointing dedicated managing directors to its largest three brands:  Hobbs, Whistles and Phase Eight. Justin Hampshire will join Hobbs in January as managing director. Hampshire joins from sister brand Whistles, where he has held the same role since September 2016. He was previously chief financial officer at Whistles and chief operating officer at Crew Clothing.

House of Fraser buying and merchandising director for fashion and accessories Simon Pickering is joining Phase Eight as managing director. Pickering joined HoF in February from Reiss, where he was chief digital officer. Before that he spent five years at Fat Face.

Whistles brand director Helen Williamson will move into the role of managing director. Williamson joined Whistles as commercial director in February 2015 and became brand director in September 2016.

TFG London had record sales for the six months to 30 September, despite what it described as a “challenging market”.

Sales for the first half hit £200.4m and all brands achieved double-digit online growth.

Total sales, including Hobbs, were up 50.7% on the first half of 2017. Like-for-like sales were up 2.3% on last year.

EBITDA for the first half fell 7% to £13.7m following a £2.5m write-off of House of Fraser debt. Excluding the HoF provision EBITDA hit a record £16.2m. Net borrowings were reduced to £41.7m.

During the period the group opened 68 stores and concessions.

Ben Barnett, chief executive of TFG London, said: “The strong first-half performance at TFG London, in a tough trading climate, has been achieved through a relentless customer focus.”

TFG London is owned by South African retail group the Foschini Group.

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