Meg Lustman’s turnaround success at Hobbs has lessons for other retailers.
‘The High Street as we used to know it in the UK is dead,’ says Meg Lustman, formerly CEO of upmarket women’s clothing company Hobbs and a veteran of brands from John Lewis to Karen Millen to Coast. However, she believes that there is scope for it to be revived in another form: ‘I think customers still enjoy the human interaction of shops ... [But] it had become very homogenous in the UK. There was nothing to distinguish between Oxford and, say, Derby, so it became very dull for customers, particularly when the disintermediation offered by online came about. The way we’re going to get customers going back to a physical space is going to be by creating something that’s more interesting and more engaging, that may be a hybrid of different things.’
Lustman was speaking at a Distinguished Speaker Seminar at Oxford Saïd. Interviewed by Associate Dean Kathy Harvey, she gave a range of insights into the business of fashion retailing, now and in the future.