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35th Mini Habitat store opens in Chichester Homebase

Habitat mini store in Homebase

It’s been three years since Habitat’s remaining London-based stores were saved from administration by the Home Retail Group. During its 50th anniversary year however, and under Home Retail’s ownership, there are 37 Habitat-in-Homebase stores across the country, three of which opened in the last month.

At home in Homebase

After acquiring the household furnishings retailer, Home Retail Group brought Managing Director, Clare Askem onto the board to help turnaround the brand’s image and within a short amount of time, Habitat-in-Homebase stores began to spring up across the country.

Habitat-in-Homebases demonstrate how outlet stores featuring selected key pieces can entice customers online. The host store Homebase, tends to attract the same DIY, home furnishing crowd as Habitat and offers a mixed blend of customers.

Askem’s long term plan is to have “north of 80” outlet stores which will provide customers with a desirable capsule collection drawing them towards the online side of the retailer.

The brand’s choice of products was also at the top of Askem’s concerns. She hired a new creative director to help with this and today around 85% of the products that Habitat offers are wholly designed by the retailer.

A third of the retailer’s sales now come from the three independent London stores, a third from online and the remaining from the Habitat-in-Homebase collaboration outlet stores.

Household sales habits

Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed that UK sales growth increased overall by 5.7% compared with February 2014, providing the UK with its 23rd consecutive month of year on year growth.

On top of this news, online sales increased by 10.1%, above February 2014 and the average weekly online spend was £756.8m in February 2015.

Household goods were also fairing well, due to the British housing market’s improvement. The sector increased by a staggering 53.5%, suggesting growing confidence in basic human needs.

This news suggests a timeliness of Habitat-in-Homebase‘s collaboration, providing consumers who have an increasing expendable allowance with an exciting new way to improve their homes. It also allows the brand‘s creative team scope to indulge in new projects.

New concept Chichester store

Habitat, Chichester Location: Homebase Chichester Design: In-house Size: 5,500 sq ft Opened: March 2015

Habitat-in-Homebase‘s latest collaboration is in the form of a new 30,000 sq ft Homebase with a 5,600 sq ft Habitat outlet on the south coast in Chichester, making it twice the size of any of the brand‘s other outlet collaborations.

The new space will showcase a retail concept developed by Habitat Creative Director Polly Dickens, Creative Manager Graham Copeland, and in-house Designer Matthew Long.

With over 1,300 products from the Habitat collection including furniture, upholstery, homewares, textile and lighting, the store design includes bespoke fixturing designed to enhance the sense of space and light and uses digital technology to create an immersive store environment for customers by incorporating interactive touch screens and video walls.

“The Mini Habitat project has allowed us to extend our physical presence across the whole of the UK making us more accessible than ever with 38 different store locations,” comments Clare Askem, Managing Director of Habitat.

“These stores have supported strong sales growth for us and this year we’re looking to continue this expansion meaning that customers are able to interact with Habitat products and staff more conveniently in locations stretching from Cornwall up to Scotland.

As our digital business continues to grow we are seeing that there is still a demand from consumers for physical showrooms that allow interaction with product before purchase and allow shoppers to immerse themselves in a Habitat environment.

Chichester is a particularly exciting project as it offers us an opportunity to trial a new visual concept for these stores on a much larger scale and means that we can look to incorporate successful new elements from this design into our other Mini and flagship stores in the future.”

Another two Habitat shop-in-Homebase stores are to open before the end of March, in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Harrogate.

Hopes for Habitat-in-Homebase

Now standing at 50 years old, Habitat is still evolving and operating in a new manner to its predecessor: focusing on emitting a design-led environment for its customers. With its reinvented interiors, remodelled products and a multi-channel approach to its customers, Habitat is definitely not what it once was.

With the economical boost from the housing market sector combined with customers’ purses expanding with an expendable allowance, the brand‘s new concept Chichester store acts as a perfect microcosm of flourishing growth.

Source : Emily Thornhill - Retail Gazette

29 March 2015

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