DFS sees pick up in trading

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SOFA specialist DFS Furniture said it has seen strong trading since the start of its winter sale in December following a weak autumn period.

Weak footfall and trading last year led to a 24 per cent tumble in earnings to £23.8m and a one per cent fall in sales to £315.3m in the half year to January 25.

DFS’ chief executive Ian Filby said: “As we anticipated when we announced our first quarter results in December, footfall and trading remained relatively weak throughout the autumn period, which together with the transition of our website is reflected in our first half sales and earnings.

“However I am pleased to report that we have seen a significant uplift in current trading since the launch of our winter sale in December and our strong performance in this key period will contribute to a positive start to the second half.”

DFS is in the process of broadening its appeal to more upmarket shoppers who previously would not have considered the store chain an option.

It opened three new stores in the first half, including its 100th DFS store in Devon, and it is expanding its multichannel offer.

The group has launched a new website which has made it easier for the growing number of customers who access the online channel through tablets and mobile

phones.

Earlier this year the group announced a new brand partnership with Dwell, the contemporary furniture and home accessories retailer.

“This will help us to further broaden our customer appeal by extending our links with more aspirational brands,” said Mr Filby.

“This builds on the success we have already achieved through the launch of exclusive ranges of high quality sofas handcrafted in the UK under the Country Living, House Beautiful and French Connection brands, and through our established brand partnership with Sofa Workshop. “

DFS has been trialling a local distribution centre concept in the south east, which has meant taking the warehouse and distribution operations of four of its

stores offsite.

This has created additional selling space in the stores, allowing it to sell an extended range of products and reduced the cost of warehouse space.

Following a boost in sales and profits at the trial, it is planning another in the North West of England.

“We remain confident that our strategy will deliver a satisfactory result for the full year and drive sustained outperformance of our market. DFS continues to enjoy excellent prospects for long term profitable growth as the UK market leader in upholstered furniture,” said Mr Filby.