A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, June 24, 2011

Habitat to close retail units outside London

I could see if they switched the lights on
It does not look good this year for the so-called bricks & mortar retailers. That is those with shop units. They are caught in a cross between a spiral and vacuum if there is such a thing. Rents keep going up, shoppers are far more choosy, and VAT got hiked. Not exactly a recipe for success. Plus utilities are on a one-way journey to the skies. So it comes as no surprise to me that Habitat is closing its stores outside London. The one in Solihull always seemed bereft of paying customers. It is said the locations were wrong. This one is on a retail park tucked away from the hurly burly. I'm of the opinion that there are far too many retailers. Locally we are being bamboozled into a new shopping mall, with Asda pulling the strings. There won't be any independents, just multiples all backed by mysterious private equity groups.

Along with the woes of Habitat comes the news that home fittings company Homeform, the owner of brands such as Moben, Kitchens Direct and Dolphin, is to go into administration. That doesn't surprise me, much as MFI eventually biting the dust did not. These brands are naturally suffering in the downturn, but they also featured quite regularly on BBC Watchdog for their sloppy customer service, so it is not all down to the economics of the country.

Comet is not doing so well, Dixons and Currys too. Famous brands in difficulty all around. Are we to be left with just the major supermarkets with a vast online and home delivery service plus a few niche players for added choice? If so, lots of retail staff will be out of a job and just window shopping courtesy of Windows!

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