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Hobbs pledges not to pass on VAT hike

Hobbs will not pass the January VAT hike on to customers, but will introduce more premium details to its ranges from autumn 11 to justify some bigger prices, chief executive Nicky Dulieu has claimed.

“A fashion brand cannot just add on 2.5% [but] there is an opportunity to add more value to products that the customer would be happy to pay for - for example, more detail for a £10 increase in the price of a dress. We will not increase the price of core suiting,” she told Drapers.

Hobbs this week secured £14m of new funding from its private equity backer 3i and parachuted in turnaround specialist Iain MacRitchie to replace retail veteran Tony Campbell as chairman. Campbell relinquished his stakeholding in Hobbs as part of the restructure, along with a handful of other former directors and their families.

MacRitchie, who comes from a fast-moving consumer goods marketing background, will help to develop each of Hobbs’ sub-brands - comprising the core Hobbs Collection, trend-led NW3 and premium range Limited Edition - so that each of them has a more distinctive feel.

Dulieu also said the premium womenswear chain increased sales by about 12% in the year to January 2011 and grew profits, but not to pre-2010 levels.

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