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Hobbs heads for Hong Kong

Hobbs will cut the ribbon on its first store in Hong Kong in December, entering its seventh new international market this year.

The first store will be in the IFC Mall in Hong Kong’s Central District and is due to open on 1 December. It will be operated through a joint venture with an unnamed party. Hobbs plans to open up to six more in the market over the next three years

“We’re partnering with somebody locally [on a joint venture basis] who has great relationships with the landlords,” explained Hobbs chief executive Meg Lustman.

Lustman said she was confident the stores would trade well: “We can see our customer exists out there. When we’ve visited over the years, we’ve seen how many women are dressed for professional work. This is supported by demand from customers on our website.”

She added: “We also know how well our sister brands are doing [in Hong Kong].”

Hobbs, Whistles and Phase Eight are all owned by TFG London, the UK arm of South African retail company The Foschini Group. Whistles opened a store in the IFC Mall in April. 

Hobbs has expanded into six new international territories so far in 2018 – the Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore, Japan, Kuwait and South Africa – adding to its existing presence in the US and Germany. Most are department store concessions, although it has one company-operated store in the US. 

Lustman said there were no plans to move into China, arguing that it is “still unclear how you can be competitive and profitable in China at this stage”. 

Instead, the womenswear retailer is eyeing Switzerland for 2019.

“We get a lot of demand from Swiss customers,” said Lustman. “We’ll start with concessions initially. I think there’s enough knowledge in the group for stores longer term, but not next year.”

The Foschini Group bought Hobbs in November 2017. In August, Lustman revealed that it was seeking locations for up to 15 new UK stores.



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