New Habitat chief executive Mark Saunders expects to return the furniture and homewares chain to profitability within three years.
The 36-store retailer has suffered from widening losses in recent years. It posted a pre-tax loss of £13.4m in the year to March 30, 2008, compared with £11m the year before.
But Saunders, who joined from Levi Strauss Europe in April, said the three-year turnaround strategy he is implementing will take the retailer “into a healthy place” where it will be “making the kind of money a retailer like this should be making”.
Saunders said Habitat was “running ahead of budget” and that two weeks ago it had its biggest week for sales in three years as a result of promotions, friends and family evenings, “more of the right product at the right prices” and a “better store ambience”.
He said he will make the organisation “consumer-obsessed”, and is conducting a “top-to-bottom business review”. Saunders will focus on having the “right product” and is assessing Habitat’s pricing strategy.
“We want to appeal to a broader church of people,” he said. He has also placed more emphasis on customer service and staff training.
Habitat, which had its credit insurance removed in the recession, has opened a new store in Paris this year. It plans further openings in Russia and Liverpool One later this year, and Spain next year.
Saunders said there are opportunities to open more UK stores.
“We could do with a couple more in London and Newcastle. We’re an urban brand and should be in all the big cities,” said Saunders.
Because of global economic uncertainty, plans to open stores in the Middle East have been delayed until next year, while store openings in India and China are “on hold”.
Last month the retailer hired Jonathan Crawley, former managing director at defunct furniture retailer Ilva, as its head of range. It also launched a transactional website.