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Argos owner buys Habitat Group for 24.5m

The Habitat home furnishings brand has been bought by Home Retail Group, the owner of Homebase and Argos, in a multi-million pound deal.

The £24.5m sale, exclusively revealed by Sky City editor Mark Kleinman, includes three London stores, its brand designs, UK website, and intellectual property.

The Home Retail Group (HRG) revealed it plans to stock Habitat goods in concessions in Homebase stores.

HRG agreed to buy the branches at Tottenham Court Road, King's Road and Finchley Road, but not Westfield London.
It means the future of the other Habitat UK stores, 30 in total, is uncertain as the remainder of the firm enters administration.
Habitat's owner Hilco said the stores not included in the deal will trade as normal while the administrator, Fraser Gray of Zolfo Cooper, talks to interested parties.

The private equity firm added it is in advanced talks to sell the more successful European operation, which consists of 27 stores in France, six in Spain and five in a Germany, to a major European business.

Hilco said Habitat posted losses of £88m over the past three years and a return to profitability in the UK appeared unlikely in the short term as many of the stores were expensive and poorly-located for a furniture retailer.

The collapse of Habitat follows a tough week for UK retailers, as consumers cut back in the face of the squeeze on household incomes.

Homeform, the owner of Moben kitchens, bathroom chain Dolphin and Sharps bedrooms, said on Thursday it intended to appoint administrators, putting 1,300 jobs at risk, while on Wednesday Comet owner Kesa said it was considering a sale of the electricals retailer after it posted losses of £8.9m.

Set up by design legend Sir Terence Conran in 1964, Habitat came to epitomise London's young and trendy image during the Sixties with a range of pastel colours and products based on Conran designs.

Private equity group Hilco acquired the debt-laden Habitat in 2009 from the Ikano Group, the company founded by the Kamprad family which owns Ikea.

It paid almost nothing for the chain, which was carrying heavy debts, while Ikano also agreed to inject £45m into the business.

Source : Sky News
news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Argos-And-Homebase-Owner-Home-Retail-Group-Buys-Struggling-Habitat-Group-For-245m/Article/201106416018056?

24 June 2011
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