Hilco, the restructuring specialist which owns Habitat, has brought in Phil Wrigley as executive chairman of the loss-making furniture retailer.
Mr Wrigley, a former chief executive and chairman of the New Look clothing chain, said yesterday that there was a lot of work to be done in his new role.
“Habitat is a great brand with a unique history and I think it will do better if it reconnects with its customers and doesn’t worry too much about parent companies or what’s happening in other markets.”
Mr Wrigley said Habitat may have been distracted by formerly being part of the Swedish family structure that owns the Ikea chain.
“I don’t know the complete history, but it is sometimes the case that companies that are absolutely focused on one brand can find it difficult to adapt to and accommodate something that is completely different.”
Habitat, which has been owned by Hilco since the company bought it from the Kamprad family of Sweden last December, made losses of £35m last year.
Before New Look, where he stepped down as executive chairman in March 2009 and non-executive chairman at Christmas, Mr Wrigley has been a director of BHS, Dorothy Perkins and Debenhams.
Hilco bought Habitat from the Ikano group, founded by the Kamprad family, which owns Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer.
Hilco announced plans to convert into equity €60m (£53m) of Habitat’s €100m debts which the fund acquired when it took over the company, as part of a wider restructuring.
Hilco, which owns the Denby pottery and Clipper Marine, the yacht retailer, bought Habitat for €3 in exchange for taking on the business and its debts.
At the time of the purchase, Hilco believed that Habitat had become too UK-focused, while its biggest business was in France.
Habitat was founded by Sir Terence Conran, the designer, and the first store was opened in London in 1964. It has since expanded into France, Spain and Germany.