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Habitat opens first new full size store in a decade

Habitat has opened its first new flagship store in a decade, with a 437 sq m (4,700 sq ft) standalone store at Westfield London. A second new store is scheduled to open in Brighton in November, as part of a £1.5m investment by parent company Sainsbury’s.

The Westfield store is located in the mall’s £600m extension, in the ‘Home hub’ that brings together multiple homewares and furniture retailers.

The store has been designed by Habitat’s in-house design team, and will feature more than 1,400 product lines from the retailer’s furniture, lighting, textiles, and accessories collections. The design is an evolution of the concept introduced in a 2016 redesign of Habitat’s Tottenham Court Road store.

Other recent store openings have comprised smaller Habitat stores located within Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

Habitat is seeking to cater for customers who want a choice of shopping in-store or online, says managing director Clare Askem. Products from the brand’s full range of 4,500 products can be ordered for home delivery or collection in-store at the latest branch.

“Alongside good digital growth we’ve seen a great reaction to our store format trials which allow customers to interact with our products in different retail environments,” says Askem. “Westfield London will be our first large format store to offer customers a new immersive Habitat experience within a major shopping mall and is aimed at those that want the convenience of different fashion, home and entertainment retailers in one easy to shop location.”

“The space has been built around a white cube framework that allows us to layer a variety of product, bright colour, shape and pattern on top without making it visually overwhelming for customers,” says Habitat senior designer Matthew Long.

“To make customers take time to appreciate the product, the interior design is stripped right back so that there are minimal visual distractions – no large digital screens, imposing fixtures or dramatic architectural details. The store is designed as a calm, inspiring environment where customers can browse products at their leisure.”

The entrance to the store features a 4m high industrial framework-style window, with ‘Instagram Square’ displays that allow a clear view of the store inside. Black and white checkerboard flooring immediately inside the entrance provides a backdrop for the colourful products. A large cube structure to the left of the entrance will be used for installations, events, design collaborations and customer workshops, on a monthly schedule.

Light oak flooring is used as a base on which to display larger furniture items. The tall space is broken up by a 60 piece raft installation, created to give the store a more domestic scale and feel. The VM team has sought to create a marketplace feel, with informal stacks of tactile products placed throughout the store.

“We want customers to… discover the many design aesthetics that exist within the Habitat collection,” says Habitat visual merchandising manager Amy Rich. “Both architecture and visual merchandising has been devised to draw the eye into the store from the main shopping mall walkways, starting with a wall of bold colour and pattern and being led through by the undulating… raft design at different ceiling levels, emerging at a dramatic, full height lighting installation at the back of the store.”