Design brand Habitat went into administration back in 2011, closing around 70 stores across Europe and the UK, and only keeping its three flagship Central London stores open.
However, since being acquired by the Home Retail Group, which also owns Homebase and Argos, the business has focused all its energies on the UK market and opening smaller store formats. Its UK store total is now around 40 sites.
“We are currently opening a store a week and by the end of the year we will have north of 80 mini stores across the UK,” pledged Dowden, who says that the smaller high street formats, which can vary from 2,000 to 5,500 sq ft, tie into the growing consumer trend towards convenience.
“We think there’s still a real affinity for our brand so it’s about making people realise we’re back and using this campaign to ensure we are the biggest comeback story of 2015.”
To mark the next phase of its turnaround plans, today (April 16) the homeware brand launched the first of two television adverts to reinforce its design credentials. The first features a couple passionately kissing, but a voyeuristic camera instead choosing to focus on their ‘Hendrick’s’ sofa to represent Habitat’ customers greater interest in design.
The playful ‘We all look but only some of us see’ campaign will be followed in September, with the camera – a perceived peeping tom – in the second ad focusing on an Orrico coffee table opposed to the dance moves of a half-naked man. The multimedia campaign will feature on television, in cinemas and be promoted heavily through social media channels.
“I think the TV campaign really hammers home our point of difference and is the logical next step in the resurgence of the brand,” added Downden. “We design 85% of our products in-house, so they’re not available anywhere else, and I think British consumers are ready to invest in something unique again.”
Despite almost going out of business four years ago, Habitat remains 12th of the UK’s 44 biggest general retail brands, according to YouGov’s Brand Index ratings. Over the last year its index score, which is measured by looking at consumer perception of quality, value, reputation and satisfaction, has risen by 1.3 percentage points to 11.7.
Downden also insisted that the business has moved on from past mistakes.
She concluded: “We are opening smaller stores as that’s what the consumer wants and our big investment is in multichannel, and making sure everything from the store layout to the transactional website, which is a significant sales driver, is unified by quality.
You can’t stay still in this retail environment and we don’t see this as a one off investment in [ATL] advertising.”