Habitat boss Clare Askem has stepped down from the Sainsbury’s-owned business after eight years at the helm, Retail Week can reveal.

Sainsbury’s commercial director for general merchandise and clothing James Brown has added responsibility for Habitat to his remit following Askem’s departure.

It is not yet known whether Askem has another job lined up.

The change at the top of Habitat comes just weeks after a similar switch in the leadership at Argos.

Sainsbury’s Argos boss John Rogers quit last month to become chief finance officer at WPP. His remit has been split between retail and operations director Simon Roberts and commercial director Paul Mills-Hicks as part of Sainsbury’s plans to bring its businesses closer together.

Askem joined Habitat’s former owner Home Retail Group in 2006 as head of strategic development.

She became director of strategic development in early 2009, before taking the top job at Habitat in October 2011.

Askem has been instrumental in building the Habitat business since Sainsbury’s acquired Home Retail Group in 2016.

Under her stewardship, Habitat launched a click-and-collect offer and rolled out a number of mini Habitat shop-in-shops inside Sainsbury’s larger supermarkets.

In 2018, Habitat opened its first standalone stores in more than a decade at Westfield London and on Brighton’s Lanes.

Brown said: “I’d like to thank Clare for her contribution to building the Habitat brand over many years, most recently as managing director. We wish her all the best for the future.”