3i takes £14m write-down on Hobbs

Private equity firm 3i denied reports today that it is looking to sell Hobbs after taking a huge write-down in the value of its investment in the fashion group, blaming poor sales over Christmas.

The company, which bought Hobbs in 2004 from Barclays Private Equity for £111m, said it was forced to write down the value by £14m “due to trading weakness in the last quarter of 2013”.

This means 3i’s 47 per cent stake in Hobbs is now worth just £21m, down 40 per cent from the £35m valuation given at the time of its half year results in September.

A spokesperson for 3i said: “We are not intending to sell it at the moment at all. We have no time pressures to sell it and we will continue to work with management to grow the company.”

The upmarket fashion retailer founded in Hampstead more than 30 years reported an 11.1 per cent increase in sales to £125.1m in the year to 27 January 2013 and earnings of £15.2m.

It has not provided any figures on its performance over Christmas.