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Hobbs to double store sizes to find space for Invitation brand

Mainstream womenswear retailer Hobbs is planning to more than double the footprint of its 64-strong store estate to help accommodate the launch of an occasionwear sub-brand, Hobbs Invitation, at the end of the year.

The full sub-collection, which will feature 150 to 200 pieces, will launch in December and will include hats, footwear and accessories with prices from £159 to £500. It will sit alongside existing core Hobbs London collection NW3, its younger offering, and the contemporary, trend-led Hobbs Unlimited, which launches in September.

The retailer plans to upscale its average store size from 1,500 sq ft to 3,500 sq ft to house its growing collections by freeing up unused space in existing units or by acquiring neighbouring sites. It will be helped on its way by the additional £46.5m of funding it secured last month from Barclays, the Co-operative Bank and its private equity backer 3i.

Nicky Dulieu, Hobbs chief executive, said the addition of a fourth occasionwear sub-brand, which was a direct response to customer requests, meant its existing stores were no longer large enough. She added: “With the introduction of the Invitation range we will definitely need a lot more space.”

In addition, Hobbs plans to have refurbished and extended its entire portfolio within the next three years, starting with its refurbished Cheltenham store and its new store in Westfield Stratford, both of which will open in September.

However, Dulieu said she had shelved plans to open any more stores dedicated solely to a Hobbs sub-brand such as the NW3 shop at Westfield London.

She said: “Our customers are very time poor so it makes sense to have everything under one roof.”

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