“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.