Last week sadly brought the news that a UK interiors giant would be bowing out of the market. Habitat, the brain child of designer Sir Terence Conran set up in 1964, has announced all but 3 of their UK stores will be entering administration and closing in 6 months’ time.
Whilst Home Retail Group have agreed to buy three central London stores, saving 100 staff in store and 50 in ‘brand support’, a further 750 employees face an uncertain future. With so many iconic UK brands disappearing from our high streets, it’s time to understand the challenges and make a difference.
Habitat blame the challenging economy and wrong location for their demise; “trading conditions have remained challenging for retailers of big ticket items such as furniture… A return to profitability for the business in the UK appears unlikely in the near term as many of the stores are expensive and poorly located for a furniture retailer.”
However, outside of the UK, Habitat is flourishing. The brand owns 27 stores in France, six in Spain and five in Germany, all of which are profitable. Could they learn lessons from overseas? It seems their international counterparts have the recipe for success just right, listening to what their customers want and ensuring they satisfy and even exceed their expectations.
IWP’s Kate Hardcastle had a less than favourable experience on her last trip to Habitat; “On my last visit to Habitat the customer service led little to the imagination, with a lack of product knowledge and the sale seeming like hard work. Furniture can be an emotional purchase, with a large price tag stores need to ensure their customer service is top notch.”
IWP will be championing the British high street and offering our advice to interiors companies for free at the Manchester Furniture Show on 17th and 18th of July, if you’re passionate about ensuring our high streets have a future contact us now to book a complimentary appointment.