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Hobbycraft needs to become more interesting!

HOBBYCRAFT, the arts and crafts retailer subject to a bidding war last year, has increased sales and profits since being taken over by private equity but admitted it has to become “more interesting”.

The retailer’s parent, Hobbycraft Group, which was bought by Bridgepoint Capital last year in a deal worth around £100m, hit sales of £95.21m for the year to February, up from £84.38m.

It is already the largest chain of dedicated arts and crafts superstores but Bridgepoint – which counts Sir Stuart Rose among its advisers – wants it to increase sales fourfold.

Over the last year Hobbycraft opened four stores, taking the total to 51, but the report written by chairman Simon Burke said the firm must do more to increase its appeal.

“Hobbycraft benefits from a strong and loyal customer base of craft and hobby enthusiasts who form the core of our stores’ business. But there are many more potential customers who do not see themselves as ‘crafters’ for whom we need to make ourselves more accessible and interesting.”

The group, which started out from one shop in Bournemouth, made an operating profit of £2.77m after a £9.3m goodwill amortisation and exceptional charges. The pre-tax loss was £11.03m, which reflects in part the £12.57m cost of net financing.

Bridgepoint beat off competition from private equity firm Exponent and retailer Halfords to buy Hobbycraft in April last year. Blackstone had expressed interest, but did not submit a bid in time.

Hobbycraft, run by ex-Pets at Home marketing director Catriona Marshall, did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Bridgepoint’s European advisory board is made up of names including former HBOS chief executive Sir James Crosby, former Labour Health Secretary Alan Milburn and Lord Patten, ex-governor of Hong Kong.

Source: Peter Edwards - City AM

06 September 2011
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