Over the weekend we learned about the demise of another high street retailer – Habitat. Habitat was originally created by Sir Terrance Conran, who has achieved considerable success in the world of style and design. He has a unique eye for design and it would appear that he also has the knack of fantastic vision and timing, something that many retailers seem to lack consistently. Hilco bought Habitat a little over 2 years ago and specialise in “restructuring” (this does not mean saving) retail businesses that are in distress. Presumably this was the outcome that they were looking for. The Home Retail Group that own Argos and Homebase have agreed to buy part of Habitat – 3 of its stores and the online business. This is perhaps a strange buyer, given that HRG have their own struggles with Argos (sales down 9%) as the retail world has evolved to something rather more than the ability to sell a lot of BBQ sets.
I’m not sure if the economic backdrop or the warm weather has resulted in improved sales of beverages, but the Whitbread Group reported increases in sales of 9.2%. It owns Costa Coffee who saw a 22.5% increase in sales. On the other side of the earth, Fosters Group recommended shareholders to reject a bid from SABMiller (owners of the Grolsch and Peroni) that values the Group at £6.2bn. The world of brewing beer is not one that I understand terribly well. It seems that firms brew and market all sorts of beers in various different global regions, to the extent that SABMiller actually brew (importing some of the specific ingredients from Australia) and market Fosters to parts of India. This is effectively brewing under license, but suggests that few beers are actually from the assumed place of origin. Beer seems to have a rather confused market and I’m not sure if this is due to historic agreements or the consequence of sampling the products. However, here is a video from a man who is definitely not confused, creating fantastic design pieces and discusses his perspective on brands and his work with Peroni. Here is Antonio Berardi.