Furniture retailer Habitat is to broaden the appeal of its ranges and review its property portfolio in a bid to continue its turnaround under newly appointed group chief executive Kevin Styles.
Executive chairman Phil Wrigley – who said he intended to step back from the day-to-day running of the business – said Habitat would now focus on range to broaden its customer base.
The retailer has introduced a new value range – Another Great Value Product – to appeal to more cash-strapped consumers.
Habitat will also be “significantly upweighting designer product” to appeal to more affluent shoppers.
“There is a group of people that aspire to shop at Habitat but thought it was a little bit unattainable,” said Wrigley, adding that Habitat also “needs to have more integrity” on the design side.
The 34-store retailer will also review its store portfolio. “We have lots of stores that have been open for many years,” said Wrigley. “Some are not in the right place.”
He said that stores in some cities and provincial towns did not fit Habitat’s customer profile, and that the retailer would consider rationalising its portfolio to operate better-located stores.
Wrigley also said Habitat would be running fewer Sales and promotions. “A lot of Habitat has been about promotions and clearing stock. We’ll see a progressive increase in full-price trading,” said Wrigley.
Trading has been “quite mixed”, according to Wrigley. He said: “It’s been better than we had feared but we would like it to be better.”
Styles was latterly Best Buy’s UK marketing director and, exploiting his marketing expertise, Habitat intends to change tack on how it communicates with customers. “We want to talk with confidence about the brand,” said Wrigley, who added that Style’s appointment completed Habitat’s management team.
Chief operating officer Shaun Wills and commercial director Jonathan Crawley will now both report into Styles, as well as European managing director Andre Segura. Wrigley insisted there was a future for the loss-making business, which is one year through its three-year turnaround strategy after being acquired by Hilco in 2009.
“Habitat has huge appeal and relevance,” he said.