Habitat to close Norwich city centre store

A major city centre furnishings store is set to close next month after 26 years in Norwich.

A spokesman for Habitat has confirmed the store in London Street, is set to close around mid-June. They added that it was only the Norwich store closing, rather than part of a wider programme of closures. The store would not give details of job losses, but the Evening News understands that staff have been warned of redundancies.

The spokesman said: 'We can confirm that the Habitat Norwich store will be closing in June 2011. Following extensive negotiations Habitat has decided not to renew the lease and will immediately prepare to vacate the premises.'

The store first opened up in the city in 1985, with a retail area of 1534 sq m. Newspaper reports from the time cite that a queue of about 40 people were enthusiastically waiting for the store to open its doors. The store was built on the first floor of the redeveloped Garland's site.

Stefan Gurney, below, from Norwich City Centre Partnership, said despite the loss of Habitat he was hopeful that the vacant space would soon be filled. He said: 'Although Habitat has been an integral part of the city centre, several other businesses I think will jumping at the chance to have a store of that size in such a prime location.

'I would not be surprised if it was snapped up quickly. Norwich continues to attract high-end retail outlets for the city.'

The Habitat chain itself was founded by Sir Terence Conran in 1964, with the first store opening in London. It now sells furnishings across the world, with stores in France, Germany and Spain and franchised outlets in other countries.

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The chain was sold by the IKANO Group, owned by the Kamprad family, in December 2009 to Hilco, a restructuring specialist.

It has more than 30 UK stores, but also closed one of its London branches, on Regent Street, in March.

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