DFS Furniture Company is the UK's leading retailer of sofas and armchairs. Founded by coalminer's son Graham Kirkham - now Lord Kirkham - in 1969, the main DFS chain has around 118 large stores in the UK & Ireland, mostly concentrated in the South and South-East of England. There are also a small number of stores in the Netherlands and Spain. The group claims to sell more than 30,000 items of furniture every week, either under its own brand or through co-branded partnerships with interiors magazines Country Living and House Beautiful, among others. The group has also acquired several smaller rivals including Dwell and Sofology, which continue to operate separately under their original names, with around another 80 stores between them. (Another brand, Sofa Workshop, was sold in 2020). DFS became a sponsor of Team GB at the 2016 Olympics, and continues in that role for Tokyo 2020. Trading throughout the upholstery sector has been very hard since 2004, but DFS has weathered the storm better than many competitors, no fewer than four of whom collapsed into bankruptcy in the late 2000s. DFS survived and indeed thrived, and in 2010 Kirkham sold the business to private equity investor Advent International for £500m. (He retained ownership of around a third of the chain's retail stores until 2013). Advent issued an IPO of DFS in 2015. Kirkham no longer has any connection to the business. Tim Stacey is now group CEO; Nick Smith is CEO of lead brand DFS. Revenues peaked in the year to Jul 2019 at £901m, before slipping back to £725m for ye June 2020. The group reported a net loss of £69m after almost £100m of non-cash impairment and depreciation costs.
Capsule checked 15th July 2021
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Who are the competitors of DFS? The company claims around 34% share of the UK upholstery market. Rivals include specialist chains such as ScS, Harveys, Furniture Village and Oak Furnitureland, as well as general merchandisers including Ikea, John Lewis and others. See Retail Sector index for other companies
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Apr 2021: New advertising agency appointed for DFS. See Adbrands Account Assignments.
Adbrands Daily Update 18th Dec 2019: "The Grand Sofa Caper". Wallace and Gromit have already been out and about this holiday season in a campaign for mail order company Joules. Here they are again in a splendid campaign for furniture manufacturer DFS. The agency as usual is Krow, working with the animation geniuses at Aardman; the two are already long-standing partners on DFS campaigns, but this is the first time they have used Wallace and Gromit in an ad. It's surprising perhaps that they hadn't splashed out on the character rights before, and instead allowed Joules to get in there first. However, the added bonus is the return to our screens for the first time in 14 years of Lady Tottington - still voiced by Helena Bonham-Carter - from Aardman's splendid 'Curse of the Were-Rabbit' movie. Helena Bonham-Carter in an ad for DFS! Who would have expected that?
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