British fashion chain Habitat to be sold in pieces

Habitat logo 750 jobs at British furniture chain Habitat are at risk, as the bankrupt company will be split up and (some of) the pieces sold separately. Competitor Home Retail Group will take over a small part of Habitat UK, and for the continental activities too, an interested buyer would have been found.


Private equity fail

Even though Habitat had been generating losses for years, private equity firm Hilco paid 15 million euro to the Kamprad-family (best known for Ikea-founder Ingvar Kamprad) to take over the chain. The private equity firm had hoped to make Habitat a healthy company again, but failed in the process and is now forced to sell the chain after starting the procedure to go in administration. 


Home Retail Group picks best, leaves rest

Home Retail Group, owner of the number two in British DIY Homebase, will pay Hilco 24.5 million pounds (27.5 million euro) for the best British bits and pieces: the intellectual property, the exclusive rights to use the name Habitat, the web shop and three London flagship stores. For 150 of the 900 employees, the future seems secured. For the 30 other British stores, the owners appear to be hoping for buyers for the property at best, not leaving much hope for the 750 other employees. 


European stores are safe(r)

As Habitat's continental stores had been generating profits, countrary to their British counterparts, their future looks a lot better. Hilco confirms ongoing negotiations with a company - rumoured to be French Conforama - to buy the 27 French, 6 Spanish, 5 German and 3 Belgo-Luxemburgian stores. 

» Read more


Explosions in Ikea: possible blackmail attempt (update)

Three IKEA stores in Belgium, the Netherlands and France had to be closed after several explosions had occurred on Monday. After a long security check, all stores have been cleared to open again the next morning.


Three stores hit in three different countries (but close to each other)

The first store where the packages exploded was in North-French Lille. Two separate explosions in the kitchen department were too small to hurt anyone. Not even an hour away (by car) lies the IKEA store of Ghent (Belgium), where two more small bombs exploded. While not bigger than the French explosions, in the Ghent explosions two staff members were hurt because a customer had heard clocks ticking and warned security.

90 minutes later, another package exploded in a garbage can on the parking lot of Eindhoven's IKEA and again, nobody was hurt. One remarkable fact is that, while perfectly on the line Lille – Ghent – Eindhoven (E17/E34-roads), the IKEA of Antwerp was left unharmed.

Police have searched for more such packages in the three stores (and a few others), but found no other explosives. All IKEA shops therefore opened just like normal on Tuesday morning, but the Belgian trade unions did ask for another security audit.


Earlier bomb threats on Dutch IKEA stores

It is not the first time that (Dutch) IKEA stores had to deal with alleged bombs. In 2002, two Poles put several bombs in the stores of Sliedrecht and Amsterdam. They asked for 250,000 euro, but got eleven years of imprisonment instead. Seven years later, a woman called the police claiming that there was a bomb in IKEA's Amsterdam South East store – there was none.

As the modus operandi is the same in all the stores, police are guessing there is a connection between the events. Each of the small bombs, hidden in a milk can, consisted of a small quantity of gunpowder, a detonator and an alarm clock. One website noted that it was “quite appropriate that the bombs in the stores famous for self-assembly devices were home made”.

So far, nothing about motive or culprits is known. It does not keep the press from guessing: some point a finger to angry farmers because of the recent arguments about give-away steaks, while others think of Eastern-European amateurs.

» Read more