Steered by Ben Barnett, the UK arm of South African retail business The Foschini Group slowed down its acquisitive strategy this year and focused instead on growing the womenswear retailers already in its portfolio: Hobbs, Whistles, Phase Eight and Damsel in a Dress.
During the year, Whistles and Hobbs unveiled plans to open stores in the UK and overseas. This was noteworthy for Whistles, which has been on a turnaround journey led by managing director Justin Hampshire and brand director Helen Williamson. Sales at Whistles grew by 18% to £68.9m for the 62 weeks to 1 April 2017, and it reduced pre-tax losses to £3.7m for the period, from a loss of £6.1m for the year to 30 January 2016.
Drapers revealed this week that Hampshire will join Hobbs as managing director, replacing Meg Lustman, and Williamson will take the helm at Whistles.
Things were quieter at Damsel in a Dress, while Phase Eight continued its international expansion, including the opening of its eighth store in Hong Kong.