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Theo Fennell topples into red

EXCLUSIVE jewellery firm Theo Fennell yesterday blamed its previous management for losing &pound;3.3m on a series of failed projects and dragging the business into the red.<br /><br />The group posted a pre-exceptional loss of &pound;2m for the year ended 31 March, compared to a profit of &pound;1.9m the year before. <br /><br />And a series of ill-judged expansionary plans, at a time when the outlook for luxury goods was weakening, forced the group to also announce a &pound;1.3m writedown. <br /><br />Barbara Snoad, who stepped in as chief executive of the jeweller in May, said: &ldquo;A lot of money went into aborted projects and failed moves into fragrance. It&rsquo;s not about copying other peoples&rsquo; success &ndash; it&rsquo;s about our own strengths.&rdquo; <br /><br />On Snoad&rsquo;s appointment she immediately reinstated founder and jeweller Theo Fennell as creative director, who walked out in February 2008 due to a disagreement with the previous management.<br /><br />Chairman Peter Hambro said: &ldquo;With Theo Fennell back on board we shall re-engage with loyal clients who, during his absence, have had little to do with the business.&rdquo;<br /><br />The departure of Fennell meant the business was forced to move into other sectors, introducing a fragrance line and selling watches in concessions in a bid to diversify the business. <br /><br />The group&rsquo;s London Westfield store closed within months of opening at the beginning of this year.<br /><br />Despite the losses, Snoad said she was confident of turning the business around: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be about concentrating on costs. We&rsquo;re going back to basics and selling jewellery.&rdquo;<br /><br />The group said it would launch a new range in the next two weeks.