The interior design chain Habitat will open its first store in Finland later this autumn at a busy location in the heart of Helsinki: the Citycenter shopping centre. The Habitat store in the building known as Makkaratalo is sure to attract many customers, even those who are not familiar with Habitat’s online store, as Citycenter is a hub that sees a tremendous amount of foot traffic by local commuters.
Habitat, a French interior design chain, will open a new store in the heart of Helsinki later this autumn, at a busy location in the Sponda-owned Citycenter shopping centre. According to CEO Vincent Destailleur, having a store in the city centre is an effective way of ensuring the visibility of the brand.
“If we are located outside the city, we have to advertise. With a store located in the central business district, we can create strong visibility for our brand.”
The CEO has already personally visited the new 1,400m2 retail space.
“The space is spread out across two floors, and there are many pillars in it. It isn’t the easiest space imaginable for furniture retail, but the location is impossible to beat.”
According to CEO Destailleur, small interior design products, in particular, see brisk sales in a high-traffic location. Approximately one half of Habitat’s product range comprises interior design products, while the other half is furniture.
“People often ask me whether Habitat is a furniture store that sells interior design products, or an interior design store that sells furniture. I tell them it’s 50–50.”
The chain’s two other Finnish stores will be further away from the city centre. Destailleur says one will be located in the vicinity of Helsinki Airport. There are also preliminary plans for stores outside the Helsinki metropolitan area.
Difficult times seen as an opportunity
Habitat is entering the Finnish market just as Kesko has announced it will close four of its Kodin ykkönen interior design department stores. The recession makes many people think carefully whether to spend their money on interior design or something else.
“Clearly, these are difficult times, but we see that as an opportunity. I have great confidence in Habitat, and I am not afraid, as we are a rather unique operator in the interior design market.”
Habitat will recruit 20 employees for its store in Citycenter.
Destailleur characterises the Habitat style as reminiscent of the Denmark-based Bolia and other well-known Danish interior design brands. However, many other brands lack the extensive collection of interior design products that Destailleur considers to be Habitat’s competitive advantage.
In addition to Finland, Habitat is currently expanding to other countries including China, Thailand, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. Denmark, which is known for its own successful interior design brands, is also part of the company’s plans.
In recent years, Habitat has had a strong focus on the Nordic countries. The CEO says the Nordic markets have a strong customer base in the company’s urban chic target group.
“Finland has a similar climate to Sweden and Norway. People spend a lot of time at home, and the home plays an important role in their lives. That is why they spend time and money on interior design,” Destailleur believes.
Text: Julia Isoniemi