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Habitat name sold to the Home Retail Group

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Argos owner the Home Retail Group today said it planned to develop Habitat’s online presence as it revealed it had bought the iconic furniture brand from its administrators. The company, which owns both Argos and Homebase, sees a multichannel future for Habitat, and will sell its products online as well as through three Habitat stores in London and concessions in Homebase stores. Habitat’s other stores across the country are likely to close.

Home Retail Group this morning said it paid £24.5m for the exclusive use of the Habitat brand, its brand designs and intellectual property in the UK and Ireland. The price also includes the website, brand support functions and the three London stores.

Terry Duddy, chief executive of Home Retail Group, said: “The style-led credentials of the Habitat brand, with its strong heritage, will be a significant addition to the group’s portfolio of own brands. In addition to operating the three London stores and the UK website, we will introduce Habitat products across the group including a number of concessions in Homebase stores.

“We will also look to develop the online proposition leveraging the award-winning multi channel strength of Home Retail Group.”

When Habitat was launched in 1964 by Sir Terence Conran, it brought a new kind of modern design to British homes. But it was bought by the-then latest entrant to that market, Ikea, in 1992, who subsequently passed it over to retail specialist Hilco. Habitat remained more expensive than its rivals and failed to prosper as a result.

Our view: Home Retail Group says it values the style of the Habitat brand, but it’s hard to see that brand prospering in concessions inside Homebase stores, many of which are out of town rather than in the city centre locations Habitat fans will be used to. But then it’s quite some time since the Habitat was quite so popular, and many its erstwhile demographic have opted to buy with cheaper rivals in recent years, while the store has also been hit by the slump in the property market. Habitat stores as they were will be fondly remembered, but we’ll be watching with more interest to see how its multichannel future shapes up.

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