MOST OF THE UK arm of the furniture retailer Habitat has gone into administration, putting all but three of its stores and around 700 jobs at risk.
The news came as it was also announced that the current owner Hilco had agreed to sell the Habitat brand in the UK, the website and three stores in central London to the Home Retail Group for £24.5 million (€27.6m), according to The Guardian.
The stores not involved in the deal will continue to trade as normal while the administrator looks for potential buyers. The company added that all existing orders and all customer deposits were fully protected.
BBC News adds that it is unclear what will happen to Habitat’s remaining employees in stores that are not subject to the deal with Home Retail Group, which owns Argos and Homebase.
Habitat ceased trading in Ireland - where it had stores in Galway and Dublin – in May 2008 and was seen at the time as the first major casualty of the economic downturn.
Seen as a breath of fresh air into the UK retail market when it was first established in the 1960s, it has struggled to survive since the emergence of cheaper rivals who have mimicked its clever designs. The Guardian adds that the company made a loss of £18.7 million (€21m) on sales of £74.3 million (€83.7m) in the year to March 2009.