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Hobbs targets overseas and online expansion

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Hobbs has reported a sharp improvement in its ecommerce performance following investment in its website. The fashion retailer is also moving to strengthen its management team as part of a strategy to grow the womenswear brand both online and internationally.

The fashion retailer says ecommerce sales have grown by 55% so far in its current financial year, a period in which it has relaunched its website. It has also attracted a line-up of talent from competitors including Asos , Arcadia and Ted Baker in recent months.

That has helped lift total sales across the Hobbs retail business by 9% between February and October 2012. October was its strongest month so far, with sales up by almost 18%.

In recent months the company has looked online in order to strengthen its management team. Recent recruits include Topman’s Gracia Amico who will join as director of ecommerce in January; Clare Dobbie, former global marketing director at fashion pureplay Asos, and, just announced, Helen Williamson, who joins from Ted Baker to become director of buying and merchandising. “For us,” said Nicky Dulieu , Hobbs chief executive, “Helen is the final piece in the puzzle to completing our management team as we look to grow the business both online and internationally.”

One mechanism for the expansion the company now targets at home and overseas will be the use of pop-up stores in the run-up to Christmas, partly in order to test potential locations for new stores.

Dulieu said: “Pop-up stores are a great way to test a retail environment and we’re looking forward to exploring other potential Hobbs locations. These different channels, be it pop up stores, online or international opportunities are all part of our focus on giving customers what they want and where they want it.”

Hobbs, which opened its first store in Hampstead in 1981, recently relaunched its website with improved search, customer reviews and improved photography. It reports better conversion and increased sales. Its biggest single sales day was in October, when online sales were 20% up on its previous record, and 39% of transactions were from mobile devices. “Our upgraded website has been a huge success and enables us to provide more compelling shopping experience for our busy customers,” said Dulieu.

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