rdmBlueBackgroundBY RICHARD DE MELIM

Upholstery chain ScS updated the market this morning and said like-for-like order intake within its core business was down 2.5 percent in the half to July 28.

That brought full-year order intake for its core ScS business to +0.4 percent after a much stronger first half (Aug. 2017–Jan. 2018).

Its overall figures will be impacted by weaker trading at its House of Fraser concessions. There are well-publicised circumstances surrounding the department store chain that make it risky to include it in any wider assessment of how the market is performing.

ScS' trading update followed DFS, which updated on trading this time last month. Unlike ScS, DFS guides on delivered sales, rather than orders, which it said were down around 3.0 percent in the 23 weeks to July 7, across its core DFS offer.

For the 49 weeks to July 7, it said core DFS sales were down around 4.0 percent. Total sales will of course be ahead because it acquired the entire Sofology business and selected Multiyork units.

Though ScS had a strong first half, it shouldn't be forgotten that this time last year it was reporting a circa 5.0 percent decline in second half orders for 2016–17 (Feb–Jul. 2017).

I'd venture, then, ahead of full year results this autumn for the two retailers — the market leaders in the sofa segment — that both will have traded remarkably similarly over the period, making them excellent bellwethers for how the upholstery market has fared for mature retailers.

I'd suspect only the very best independents, along with emerging retailers yet to reach maturity, will have beaten them.

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