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Furniture Retailing - UK - December 2014

“The biggest issue for furniture retailers is to create a compelling identity which consumers can relate to. Each company needs to be very clear about its own unique proposition and should continue to build on this image consistently when designing store interiors or conducting advertising campaigns. By enhancing their branding in this way, companies can gradually shift away from over-reliance on hooking people in with discounted prices and special offers, and persuade them to come because of their excellence in design, range or value for money. This way retailers will build the necessary magnetism that will persuade customers to make the trip to a store.”
– Jane Westgarth, Senior Retail Analyst

This report answers the following key questions:

  • What is the shopping journey for furniture? 
  • What is the ideal size for a furniture chain? 
  • What is the role of furniture brands in furniture retailing?

There have been sweeping changes in the furniture retailing sector in recent years because of a downturn in demand. Several groups have been through rationalisation or administration and some famous names have closed their doors. MFI, a major presence in furniture in the UK, went out of business in 2008 and other big names followed including Land of Leather. We also saw HomeForm Group go into administration in 2011 and the subsequent buyout of Sharps, the fitted bedroom furniture specialist. Habitat was another casualty, subsequently bought by Home Retail Group as part of its strategy to develop exclusive brands. And the once-promising Dwell also ran into difficulties and the remaining business has been bought by DFS. The UK’s biggest bed retailer, Dreams, over-extended itself and was bought out of administration by Sun European Capital, adding to its stable of furniture retailers which also includes ScS (sofas and carpets) as well as Sharps.

Howdens Joinery (with a trade-only model) and Wren Living stepped in to fill the gap created by MFI and other companies have also expanded furniture within their product mix including John Lewis, Tesco and Next. Meanwhile Homebase and IKEA among others have invested in better ranges, stronger branding and more comprehensive services including online selling. And Steinhoff has streamlined its UK furniture operations and is rolling out a successful new store design which incorporates Bensons for Beds.

Even through tough times there have been some remarkable successes, notably the high growth of Oak Furniture Land, The Range, DFS and Sofaworks. And Jysk, a major Scandinavian retailer, is expanding its UK presence. 

This report examines furniture retailing, profiles the largest furniture retail companies and examines consumer attitudes towards shopping for furniture.

This report covers the retailing of the following types of furniture:

  • Living and dining room furniture 
  • Bedroom furniture, including beds and mattresses 
  • Home office furniture


We cover bathroom and kitchen furniture in more detail in separate reports and have included beds and bedroom retailers in this report, but these are also covered in more detail in a separate report.

This report does not cover any furniture sold on contract for the non-domestic market (such as hotels and hospitals) and excludes second-hand and antique furniture. Other specialist sectors not included in the scope of this report are nursery furniture. And we exclude retailers of garden furniture.

 

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • Definitions
        • Financial definitions
          • Abbreviations
          • Executive Summary

              • The market
                • Figure 1: Consumer spending on furniture and furnishings, 2009-19
                • Figure 2: Consumer spending on furniture and furnishings, by category, 2013
                • Figure 3: Trends in how respondents would describe their financial situation, February 2009-August 2014
              • Sales by furniture specialists
                • FIGURE 4: Furniture specialists' sales, 2009-14
              • Companies, brands and innovation
                • Figure 5: Furniture, channels of distribution, 2014 (est)
                • Figure 6: Furniture, market shares by major retailers, 2014 (est)
              • The consumer
                • Figure 7: Spend on furniture in the last 12 months, October 2014
              • Rooms furniture was bought for
                • Figure 8: Rooms people have bought furniture in the last three years, October 2014
              • Where they shopped
                • Figure 9: Retailers used for furniture for in the last three years, October 2014
              • What triggered a furniture purchase?
                • Figure 10: Reasons why people bought furniture, October 2014
              • The customer journey when buying furniture
                • Figure 11: Shopping for furniture – preferences – people who have bought furniture in the last three years, October 2014
              • Store visits preferred for comparing quality and viewing items
                • What we think
                • Issues and Insights

                    • What is the shopping journey for furniture?
                      • The facts
                        • The implications
                          • What is the ideal size for a furniture chain?
                            • The facts
                              • The implications
                                • What is the role of furniture brands in furniture retailing?
                                  • The facts
                                    • The implications
                                    • Trend Application

                                        • Trend: Guiding Choice
                                          • Trend: Who are the Joneses?
                                            • Trend: Minimize Me
                                            • The Market Environment

                                              • Key points
                                                • Growing consumer confidence
                                                  • Figure 12: Trends in how respondents would describe their financial situation, February 2009-August 2014
                                                  • Figure 13: Change in consumer prices for furniture and furnishings, 2009-13
                                                • Buoyant housing market
                                                  • Figure 14: Residential property transactions, UK, 2009-13
                                                • 41% of homes have a separate dining room
                                                  • Figure 15: Kitchens and eating arrangements, June 2014
                                                • Multigeneration homes
                                                  • Figure 16: Percentage of men and women aged 20-34 living with parents, by age, UK, 2013
                                                  • Figure 17: Household composition with or without dependent children in 2001 and 2011, England and Wales
                                                • Demographic changes
                                                • Who’s Innovating?

                                                  • Key points
                                                    • Oak Furniture Land expands into upholstery
                                                      • Harveys rolls out new store design
                                                        • IKEA visits people at home
                                                          • Made.com opens a working showroom
                                                            • DFS buys up existing brands
                                                              • Enhancing the digital experience
                                                              • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • Forecast for consumer spending
                                                                    • Figure 18: Consumer spending on furniture and furnishings, 2009-19
                                                                  • The big picture
                                                                    • Figure 19: Consumer spending on furniture and furnishings, 2009-14
                                                                  • Key home furniture markets
                                                                    • Figure 20: Consumer spending on furniture and furnishings, by category, 2013
                                                                    • Figure 21: Consumer spending on furniture, by main category, 2009-14
                                                                • Furniture Specialists’ Sales

                                                                  • Key points
                                                                    • Sales by furniture specialists
                                                                      • Figure 22: Furniture specialists' sales, 2009-14
                                                                      • Figure 23: Furniture retailers’ sales as % all non-food retailers’ sales, 2009-14
                                                                  • Strengths and Weaknesses

                                                                    • Strengths
                                                                      • Weaknesses
                                                                      • Competitive Context

                                                                        • Key points
                                                                          • Figure 24: Consumer spending on selected categories for the home, 2009-14
                                                                      • Channels of Distribution

                                                                        • Key points
                                                                            • Figure 25: Furniture, channels of distribution, 2014 (est)
                                                                          • Diverse range of furniture retailers
                                                                            • Category specialists are significant
                                                                              • General specialists
                                                                                • Some specialists extending their range
                                                                                  • Argos is the largest non-specialist
                                                                                    • DIY shifting emphasis into home enhancement
                                                                                      • Major non-specialists growing
                                                                                        • Other retailers on the march
                                                                                          • Shopping from home or on the move
                                                                                            • Figure 26: Home furnishings, online audience, 2014
                                                                                          • Independents
                                                                                          • Space Allocation Summary

                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                • Figure 27: Major furniture retailers: Percentage share of total floor selling space devoted to furniture, furniture-related and non-furniture products, November 2014
                                                                                              • Detailed space analysis
                                                                                                  • Figure 28: IKEA Swedish Food market, Wembley, November 2014
                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Major furniture retailers: Detailed space allocation, November 2014
                                                                                                • Retail product mix
                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Leading furniture retailers: Estimated furniture sales by product, 2013/14
                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Leading furniture retailers: Implied sales density, 2013/14
                                                                                              • Retail Competitor Analysis

                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                  • Leading furniture specialists’ sales
                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Leading specialist furniture retailers’ sales, 2008/09-2013/14
                                                                                                  • Rising stars
                                                                                                    • Leading furniture specialists’ operating profits
                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Leading furniture specialists’ operating profits, 2008/09-2013/14
                                                                                                    • Leading furniture specialists’ operating margins
                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Leading furniture specialists’ operating margins, 2008/09-2013/14
                                                                                                    • Leading furniture specialists’ outlet numbers
                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Leading furniture specialists’ outlet numbers, 2009/10-2013/14
                                                                                                    • Leading furniture specialists’ sales per outlet
                                                                                                      • Figure 36: Leading furniture specialists’ sales per outlet, 2009/10-2013/14
                                                                                                    • Leading furniture specialists’ sales per square metre
                                                                                                      • Figure 37: Leading furniture specialists’ sales per square metre, 2009/10-2013/14
                                                                                                    • Total sales of leading non-specialists that sell furniture
                                                                                                      • Figure 38: Total sales of leading non-specialists that sell furniture, 2009/10-2013/14
                                                                                                    • Estimated furniture sales of leading non-specialists
                                                                                                      • Figure 39: Estimated furniture sales of leading non-specialists, 2013/14
                                                                                                  • Market Shares

                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                      • Share of furniture spending
                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Leading retailers of furniture, share of all spend on furniture and furnishings, 2009-13
                                                                                                      • Winners and losers
                                                                                                        • Figure 41: Furniture, market share by major retailer, percentage points change, 2009-13
                                                                                                      • Share of the specialists sector
                                                                                                        • Figure 42: Leading specialist retailers of furniture, share of furniture retailers’ sales, 2009-13
                                                                                                    • Brand Communication and Promotion

                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                        • Advertising spend falls
                                                                                                          • Figure 43: Main media advertising expenditure on furniture and furnishings, 2010-13
                                                                                                        • DFS dominates the advertising spend
                                                                                                          • Figure 44: Main media advertising expenditure on furniture and furnishings, by top 10 advertisers, 2010-13
                                                                                                          • Figure 45: Main media advertising expenditure on furniture and furnishings, 2013
                                                                                                        • Advertising by media type
                                                                                                          • Figure 46: Main media advertising expenditure on furniture and furnishings, by media type, 2013
                                                                                                          • Figure 47: Main media advertising expenditure on furniture and furnishings, by media type, 2010-13
                                                                                                        • How the year shapes up
                                                                                                          • Figure 48: Main media advertising expenditure on furniture and furnishings, by month, 2013
                                                                                                          • Figure 49: Advertising spend, January-October 2013 and 2014
                                                                                                      • Brand Research

                                                                                                        • Brand map
                                                                                                            • Figure 50: Attitudes towards and usage of brands in the furniture retailing sector, October 2014
                                                                                                          • Correspondence analysis
                                                                                                            • Brand attitudes
                                                                                                              • Figure 51: Attitudes, by furniture retailing brand, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Brand personality
                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Furniture retailing brand personality – macro image, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 53: Furniture retailing brand personality – micro image, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Brand experience
                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Furniture retailing brand usage, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Satisfaction with various furniture retailing brands, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Consideration of furniture retailing brands, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 57: Consumer perceptions of current furniture retailing brand performance, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Brand recommendation
                                                                                                              • Figure 58: Recommendation of selected furniture retailing brands, October 2014
                                                                                                          • The Consumer – Spend on Furniture

                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                • Figure 59: Spend on furniture in the last 12 months, October 2014
                                                                                                            • The Consumer – Rooms People Have Bought Furniture For

                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                  • Figure 60: Number of rooms people have bought furniture for in the last three years, October 2014
                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: Rooms people have bought furniture for in the last three years, October 2014
                                                                                                                  • Figure 62: Refitting kitchens in the last three years, July 2013 and June 2014
                                                                                                                  • Figure 63: Bathroom fittings and accessories purchased in the last three years, 2013 and 2014
                                                                                                              • The Consumer – Retailers Used For Furniture

                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Figure 64: Retailers used for furniture for in the last three years, October 2014
                                                                                                                  • 56% of purchasers in the London area bought at IKEA
                                                                                                                    • DFS attracts young, well-off shoppers
                                                                                                                      • Argos serves the less wealthy
                                                                                                                        • 25-34s attracted to bed specialists
                                                                                                                          • Furniture specialists attract wealthier customers
                                                                                                                            • Independents serve an older customer
                                                                                                                              • John Lewis customers have healthy finances
                                                                                                                                • How many retailers they use
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 65: Repertoire of any retailers used, either in-store or online, October 2014
                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – Reasons for Purchasing Furniture

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 66: Reasons why people bought furniture, October 2014
                                                                                                                                  • Replacing worn or damaged
                                                                                                                                    • Following a house move
                                                                                                                                      • Fancying something new
                                                                                                                                        • Extra storage matters to Londoners
                                                                                                                                          • Extra workspace popular among renters
                                                                                                                                            • Greater comfort for the over-65s
                                                                                                                                              • Furnishing a home extension
                                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – Shopping Patterns

                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                  • What people who have bought furniture say
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 67: Shopping for furniture – preferences – purchasers, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Store visits preferred for comparing quality and viewing items
                                                                                                                                                    • Internet preferred for ideas and price comparisons
                                                                                                                                                      • Ideas from catalogues
                                                                                                                                                        • Advice, deliveries and credit – split fairly evenly
                                                                                                                                                          • What people who have not bought furniture in the last three years say
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 68: Shopping for furniture – preferences – non-purchasers, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                        • Retailer Profiles

                                                                                                                                                          • DFS
                                                                                                                                                            • Background
                                                                                                                                                              • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 69: DFS financial performance, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 70: DFS outlet data, 2010-14
                                                                                                                                                                • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                  • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                    • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                      • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                        • Dreams
                                                                                                                                                                          • Background
                                                                                                                                                                            • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                              • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: Dreams outlet data, 2009-14
                                                                                                                                                                                • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                      • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Sharps
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 71: Sharps financial performance, 2012 and 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 72: Sharps outlet data, 2012-14
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • IKEA
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 73: IKEA financial performance, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 74: IKEA outlet data, 2010-14
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Furniture Village
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 75: Furniture Village financial performance, 2010-14
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 76: Furniture Village outlet data, 2010-14
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • ScS Sofas
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 77: ScS financial performance, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 78: ScS outlet data, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Steinhoff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 79: Steinhoff financial performance, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 80: Steinhoff UK, outlets, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Oak Furniture Land
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 81: Oak Furniture Land financial performance, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 82: Oak Furniture Land outlet data, 2010-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • The Range (previously CDS Superstores)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 83: The Range financial performance, 2010-14
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 84: The Range outlet data, 2010-14
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Marketing and advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Wren
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 85: Wren company financial performance, 2010-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 86: Wren outlet data, 2010-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Marketing and advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • E-commerce and home shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Sofaworks (previously CS Lounge Suites)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Background
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Strategic evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 87: Sofaworks financial performance, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Store portfolio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 88: Sofaworks outlet data, 2009-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Retail offering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Marketing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Advertising
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • E-commerce and home shopping

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Argos
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Asda Group Ltd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Carpetright UK
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dean House Plc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Debenhams UK
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • DFS Furniture Holdings Plc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Furniture Village Plc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Heal's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Home Retail Group
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Homebase Ltd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • House of Fraser Plc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hunter Douglas (UK) Ltd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • IKEA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Jysk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Land of Leather Ltd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Marks & Spencer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • MFI Furniture Group Plc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Multiyork Furniture Ltd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Nobia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Oak Furniture Land
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • ScS Upholstery Plc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Sharps
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Smallbone & Co (Devizes) Ltd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Steinhoff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Sterling Furniture Group Ltd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Tesco (UK)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The HomeForm Group
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The Range

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Furniture Retailing - UK - December 2014

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