Habitat destruction puts jobs at risk…and Starbucks Calories…..

June 28, 2011

The Retail Inspector – Hardware

More than 700 retail jobs are in danger after Habitat, the furnishing brand collapsed into administration.

Habitat faces the prospect of being wiped off of the high streets outside London almost 50 years after Sir Terence Conran founded it back in 1964.

Home Retail Group, the owner of Homebase and Argos have already made a £24.5m deal that sees them become the new occupants of Habitat’s three flagship London stores and the rights to the brand in the UK.

Unfortunately, this only protects some 130 jobs, leaving the remaining 740 UK jobs at risk. Zolfo Cooper, the administrator, is said to be on the lookout for a buyer for the 30 remaining stores.

Sir Terence had this to say: “Of course I’m sad that my love child, Habitat, appears to be dying but I am more interested in the future of my own business and design projects – that is my focus.”

The administrators said the company had been suffering from “severe cash flow difficulties” amid “difficult trading conditions”.

This isn’t the end for Habitat though, as I previously mentioned, Home Retail Group will continue the Habitat brand, but on a much smaller scale. Terry Duddy, the chief executive, has plans to develop the Habitat brand online and form concessions in some of their Homebase stores.

Home Retail Group will, in effect, operate Habitat’s three London outlets as showrooms. As well as this, they have taken on the design team behind Habitat’s trendy image.

The deal didn’t go down too well with investors though, with shares in Home Retail Group dropping by 2.2, or 1.3pc, to 159.1p.

Nick Bubb, retail analyst at Arden Partners, explains why some investors have turned their noses up at the £24.5m acquisition deal: “the price seems a surprisingly large amount of money to pay for three London stores, plus the brand”.

It’s a sad sight to see Habitat fading away, as I personally feel they offer something different to other furnishing brands, a real sense of modernity and trend that will be missed on the high street.

In other news…

Starbucks, the hugely popular coffee chain, has started to test putting calories on menu boards in its British shops, becoming the latest fast food chain to do so.

The information will alarm some customers whilst reassuring others, depending on their drinks preference.

For example, a simple small black filter coffee contains a mere 3 calories, but a large hot chocolate with whole milk and topped with whipped cream has a groundbreaking 690 calories in it! To put it into perspective, that’s more than a double cheeseburger and French fries from McDonald’s.

It’s certainly a good idea, as it will help those looking to cull the amount of calories they take in – although it comes at a cost as customers will shy away from some drinks now they know the truth behind them.