The history of the Tottenham Court Road store

1966. England won the World Cup (apparently this is important). And Habitat opened possibly its best known store on Tottenham Court Road. As TCR (as we affectionately call it) heads for a full refit, we thought it high time we revisited the iconic site.

1966 marked two years since Habitat was founded by Sir Terence Conran and TCR became the brand’s second store. Sir Terence never intended for Habitat to become a chain but “there was a curious lack of reaction from other retailers in this country so I started thinking it can be a chain”. The chosen site was literally next door to Heal’s, resident on this particular site since 1840. When Habitat published posters in local tube stations declaring “Heel over to Habitat”, a small publication called Peace News responded and ran a piece with the headline screaming, ‘It’s War between Habitat and Heal’s’! Not that the location was deemed very illustrious. The Illustrated London news said: ‘Tottenham Court Road is an even more discouraging thoroughfare than Baker Street but it has got Habitat and there’s always something new to be found there’.

The two stores still share a doorway today – a stark rarity in the ever competitive world of retail. In fact, their close proximity to each other established Tottenham Court Road as the shopping destination for homewares and furniture, even to this day as it attracts the US stalwarts of home retail.

And whilst times have clearly moved on, newness abounds. London’s Time Out pitched Habitat TCR at number 28 in a tally of the top 100 shops in London, “a perennial Time Out favourite, Habitat’s appeal endures as the most dependable destination for contemporary but affordable furniture…the spacious store, though unchanged for years, effectively showcases new designs”. Well, stay tuned Time Out, TCR’s ripe for the revamp!

There’s no room for the new however until we clear the decks, so if you fancy yourself a bit of a bargain, head to the basement where there are generous discounts on items from the entire range. You’d better get your skates on though, the clearance ends this Saturday (4th July). See you at the tills!

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