Danish store Ilva aims to rival Habitat and John Lewis

LONDON - Danish home furnishing store Ilva opens its first UK outlet store next week at Lakeside, backed by a £5m advertising campaign, as it pushes ahead with plans to become one of the country's leading household retailers within two years.

The 120,000 sq ft store will be unveiled at Lakeside in Thurrock, Essex, with Manchester and Gateshead branches to follow later this summer.

A £5m campaign, including posters, catalogue door-drops and local press, has been created by ad agency Isobel, which won the business last year without a pitch.

Isobel's managing partner Paul Holding has said that the company will consider TV advertising as more stores open.

Experience Communications are working on media planning and Jackie Cooper PR on consumer and trade PR.

Ilva, the second-largest household retailer in Denmark, was bought in 2003 by former chief executive of Habitat Martin Toogood, for a reported £67m, with backing from private equity firm Advent International.

Toogood, the chairman and chief executive, plans to launch 19 stores in the UK in the next 10 years, and believes the brand will eventually rival John Lewis in terms of sales over the next two to three years.

John Lewis, the UK's third-biggest furniture and home furnishings retailer with a market share of 3.9%, recorded sales of about £1bn last year.

Toogood says that the UK needs an "injection of interesting retail products. Retailing in the UK is getting pretty boring".

Ilva has already purchased two former Marks & Spencer stores at Gateshead and Thurrock and is building a new store on the site in Manchester. It is also considering launches in Cardiff, Leeds, Reading and Glasgow.

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