This is a pivotal period in time for ScS, Britain's second largest upholstery retailer, as it adjusts to the departures of a long-time financial backer and its highest ranking executive.

It is counter intuitive that on the day that the highest-ever single-month reading for furniture retail sales is released, we also report a drop in big-ticket consumer confidence sentiment.

Freight rates in the latter half of 2020 climbed at a frightening pace and leave two stakeholder groups at particular risk: the mid-sized furniture retailer, and the end consumer.

Data compiled by The Furnishing Report reveals the expected near-term order impact of the new restrictions on furniture and flooring retailers in the immediate aftermath of Christmas.

The moratorium preventing commercial landlords from evicting non-paying tenants has been extended until the end of March next year. It is not good news for all furniture retailers.

One of the secrets to selling is having both an offer and a deadline, someone who knows a lot about selling once told me.

We are about to enter a key period for the U.K. furniture trade and anxiety levels are understandably high.

Sun Capital Partners has an excellent track record in home furnishings with the 2019 figures from Dreams providing the latest endorsement of its interest in the sector.

It is counter-intuitive that on the day we reported that September saw record-breaking furniture retail sales, we also reveal that some British manufacturers may have to temporarily close their factories.

Furniture stores in Ireland will close from Wednesday and in Wales from Friday in a repeat of harsh lockdown measures seen earlier this year.

Specialist furniture vertical HSL said four years of investment in its manufacturing operations paid dividends as it upped the volume of product leaving its own factory last year.

The founder of Sofa Workshop stands to be one of the biggest indirect beneficiaries from the sale to Halo Group of the upholstery business he created back in the 1980s.

John Lewis reported a half-year loss of nearly £560m after tax and that has brought with it much hand-wringing about its problems.

For the first time since 1953, John Lewis Partnership says it will not pay its employees a bonus. If that proves to be the case, it will not be because it lacks the resources to do so.

Furniture retailers with a few spare pennies to invest have been watching ScS and DFS closely since lockdown.

The Sofa Workshop business and brand clearly has enduring appeal. Since its creation in the mid-1980s, it has had multiple custodians, with the Halo Group and Timothy Oulton soon to become the latest.

The decision to wind down European operations was completed by Casper Sleep in the second quarter of 2020 with the decision, through no fault of its own, appearing to be ill-timed.

Relyon has all the tools it needs to succeed as a private company following its sale out of administration to its former CEO Ian Topping and other private investors.

Wednesday was a significant day for Eve Sleep, the direct-to-consumer mattress company that has, for a long time, attracted much mirth among its peers in the beds industry.

Wind back the clock. It is June 2016, and Britain's future relations with the E.U. are uncertain as Brits head to the polls.

There cannot be many furniture or flooring companies in Britain that have not availed of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in some form or other.

Any major new store development offers an opportunity for fresh thinking and for reimagining what is possible from a modern-day furniture store.

The release of official retail sales figures for May uncover the extent to which furniture retailers have missed out during lockdown but are also revelatory for the impact of ecommerce.

Yesterday saw the reopening of non-essential retail in England and in the coming days and weeks all the shops that plan to trade again will likely be doing so. But an opportunity — and millions of pounds of income — will have been lost, and for no good reason.

Creditors are expected to approve the long-planned company voluntary arrangement (CVA) at Celebrity Motion Furniture by the end of the month, giving the rise and recline company an exit from administration.

The entry into the U.K. of RH, the high-end furniture and lifestyle retailer formerly known as Restoration Hardware, is a drum we have been banging for some time, first reporting its plans back in November 2017.

There can be little doubt the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has, in the near-term, saved thousands of jobs across the U.K. furniture industry after the Government mandated the closure of non-essential retail stores late March.

Furniture retailers have been told they can reopen their stores June 15 provided they have adequate Covid-19 measures in place. By then, hundreds of furniture shops across the country will have already been open for weeks.

When the JDP Furniture Group filed for insolvency at the beginning of April the outlook always looked brightest at one of the group's businesses.

Having opened six stores over the weekend as part of a 'safety trial', Furniture Village CEO Peter Harrison says he hopes all 52 of its nationwide network will be open by the coming Bank Holiday weekend.

ChrisKnightKeenAbleThe role logistics businesses play in ensuring goods are transported around the country and get to where they are needed has never been more important, writes Chris Knight, director at specialist two-person furniture delivery company Keen & Able.

Having reshaped Britain's beds market in short order, the direct-to-consumer rolled-and-folded mattress segment is morphing again, at pace.

Silentnight, the country's biggest bed maker, is proposing the closure of its Sealy U.K. factory in Cumbria. Here is what it means for the future of the brand and business in Britain.

Gordon Brothers, the turnaround investor and buyer of distressed businesses, has acquired the Laura Ashley brand, archive and other intellectual property.

Dunelm, the major home goods retailer, has restarted two-man furniture deliveries this week. It is unlikely to be the last of the major companies to do so before restrictions are eased, but it will be much harder for some than it is for others.

The coronavirus pandemic has posed myriad challenges to the entire U.K. furniture industry but those that bring product in from far-off lands face additional and potentially existential threats.

Tomorrow (Apr. 9) is the last day of lent. This year, many in the furniture industry have given up two things fundamental to their continued existence: selling and delivering furniture.

With furniture stores shut for at least three weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, taking payments online and the delivery of outstanding orders represent retailers' only opportunity to generate income.

Few U.K. furniture retailers have yet closed their doors in response to the coronavirus pandemic but by now there cannot be a single one in the country that has not contemplated that prospect, enforced or otherwise.

At the end of January I wrote an article about the strength of Britain's independent furniture retail sector, underscoring the cash-rich nature of some of its companies.

DFS says production volumes in China are increasing again after the coronavirus outbreak temporarily brought factories to a halt. But it cautioned it could face disruption elsewhere, including at its own U.K. operation.

U.K. wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers reliant on Chinese components such as inexpensive fabrics have long been braced for delays as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Houseology lives on after The Moot Group acquired the brand and other assets of the insolvent Glasgow retailer, which had been placed into administration through Leonard Curtis last month.

Bed giant Hilding Anders yesterday declined to comment on a report Friday that it is in advanced talks to sell its Feather & Black retail business to turnaround investor Rcapital.

There is no doubting the news maker of the week in the U.K. home furnishings sector: Laura Ashley.

The furniture ecommerce operation is unaffected by the department store retailer's insolvency.

The planned closure of IKEA Coventry this summer will, in theory, put a vast sum of money back into the furniture and homewares market for all to fight for.

Trade is challenging and a number of hitherto heavily-lauded ecommerce furniture retail businesses have hit tough times in recent months. Figures from retailers like Ponsford serve to remind why the balance of power remains with established independents.

Since the turn of the year all four of the pre-eminent bed-in-a-box companies operating in the U.K. market have made the news.

The company behind furniture retailer Swoon filed for insolvency last week with its business and assets instantly sold to a newco controlled by the brand's co-founders, giving it a new lease of life. Few competitors will have been celebrating.

Many overseas furniture retailers have launched in the U.K. with big plans. Some have crashed and burned, others have stayed the course and for some, the jury is still out. Whatever the outcome for RH, the retailer formerly known as Restoration Hardware whose launch here inches closer, it seems certain to leave its mark.

The U.K. sales figures for the major producers of foam — suppliers to the big upholstery and mattress manufacturers in Britain — were once perhaps the best catch-all measure for the performance of both markets. Not so any more.

The new name for Steinhoff's divested U.K. furniture and beds operations explained, and why the deal differs from some the South African conglomerate has completed in recent times.

Steinhoff has agreed to sell its U.K. furniture and beds assets to the turnaround investor Alteri Investors. A deal has been a long time coming, and few will be surprised at the detail.

Despite the rise in the popularity of luxury vinyl tile, wood flooring and ceramics, carpets remain the floorcoverings of choice for most dry rooms in your average British home.

There is little that unites mattress company Simba Sleep and department store retailer Fenwick. One is a disrupting force that didn't exist just four years ago while the other is a long-established enterprise whose roots date back to 1882.

The more we know about our customers, the more likely we can design, source and offer products and services which best meet their needs.

Hatfields of Colchester will today (Oct. 5) officially relaunch its Peartree Road showrooms, unveiling the new-look façade it has been working on since the beginning of the year.

Gardiner Haskins, the heritage home improvement retail brand based in the South West of England, restructured its business last year with the closure of its large Bristol shop based in the iconic Grade II listed Soapworks building.

Shares in Eve Sleep changed hands for the first time in over a month yesterday (Sep. 20) after the direct-to-consumer mattress brand said early-stage merger talks with Simba had come to nothing.

Evaluating store numbers is ever more challenging.

It is not just the new and emerging companies that established furniture retailers need to be following closely.

shipContsShpfyFree
Companies are evaluating sourcing strategies in light of tariffs on Chinese goods.
Shifting furniture production away from China to other nations in Southeast Asia to avoid tariffs is a strategy laced with risk, according to a senior former U.S. Government official.

The acquisition of a majority stake in a large Vietnamese case goods factory by Samson Holding was the latest indication of the impact on the global furniture trade President Trump has had since he was sworn into office.

The release of 2018 manufacturing data across U.K. industry by the Office for National Statistics leaves us with a complete picture of the key furniture and floorcoverings categories when combined with already-known import/export data.

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Supporters believe the regs have saved many lives since their introduction in 1988.
Loved, loathed or tolerated, Britain's furniture fire regulations are some of the most stringent in the world. Introduced in 1988, they are also in need of a serious overhaul.

rdmBlueBackgroundBY RICHARD DE MELIM


The first time I met Steve Freeman, who is stepping down as group managing director at Silentnight, was in rather awkward circumstances.

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IKEA faces some of the same challenges as independent retailers.
On the surface, there is little in common between global conglomerate IKEA and Britain's best independent furniture retailers. But the home furnishings market leader does share one very important trait — a strength which is also a threat.

More on the fallout from the closure of Hull furniture maker Kingstown.

"Early to bed, early to rise — work like hell and advertise," is a modern day business adaptation of a centuries old proverb originally intended to advocate the benefits of rest.

rdmBlueBackgroundBY RICHARD DE MELIM


Sales are vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality. You will, of course, have heard that before, probably many times.

In the words of CEO Wilf Walsh, it has been a "transitional year" for Carpetright, the UK's largest retailer of carpets and other floorcoverings.

James Sturrock, the boss of mattress vendor Eve Sleep since last September, said yesterday's appointment of Tim Parfitt as CFO completes the new management line-up.

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Independent retailers face the loss of an important competitive advantage over multiples.
Britain's elite independent furniture retailers hold many advantages that traders in other products sectors do not, partly explaining why so many of them have endured through the generations.

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New ranges launched at exhibitions in Europe will continue to benefit from the Unregistered Community Design in the 27 remaining EU member states, but will no longer have the equivalent protection in the UK.
Unless an agreement with the EU is reached to the contrary, after Brexit any design which was first marketed in the UK will no longer be protected by the EU-wide design right, writes Simon Clark, partner at law firm Bristows LLP.

Cashflow was perhaps the biggest of several success stories in ScS half-year results, which were released this morning.

Timing is everything when it comes to examining performance in the seasonally-affected furniture sector.

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The new Warrens Evans website.
Warren Evans, the southeast England beds brand that went under in February last year, is back, this time as an online retailer with no showrooms.

eveSleepFw
Eve Sleep shares fell to a new low on Friday.
It is nearly two years since direct-to-consumer mattress and ancillary sleep products company Eve Sleep successfully raised £35 million in an IPO that valued the company at about £140 million.

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Sofa.com's Edinburgh showroom
The 'nominal sum' sale of upholstery maker and retailer Sofa.com might well have been for more than it first appears.

Briefly, the UK mattress industry had a new competitor.

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ScS confirmed its interest in Sofa.com yesterday.
How much do you think Sofa.com is worth, someone once very close to ScS asked us at the January Furniture Show last week? In hindsight, that question was either extremely prescient or heavily-loaded.

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Sofa.com's Polish upholstery factory
When Sofa.com debt-holder LGT European Capital took over the equity element of the upholstery vertical last year there was perhaps only ever one certainty.

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John Lewis Partnership is Britain's largest employee-owned business
Partners at the department store chain John Lewis face the possibility of a bonus-free year for the first time since the 1950s. But not paying might end up being more costly.

The winter sale period is well under way and the usual flurry of furniture-related adverts are promising benefits aplenty across British television screens. But something is different this year.

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The sale of the retailer's Dumfries property in November underlines the challenges facing the department store chain
Shares in Debenhams have fallen more than 85 percent in the past year with rarely a week passing without the department store retailer attracting negative headlines.

Deep pockets required to turn House of Fraser into the Harrods of the High Street.

Sofa.com's headline numbers for 2017–18 are less than impressive but there are mitigating factors and reasons to believe its new owner is not watering a dead plant.

James Pike on the future for Cookes and other multi-generational independent retailers.

Sales at department store retailer John Lewis & Partners topped £230 million last week, which included Black Friday, making it the highest grossing week in its 154-year history.

"From July, Nasons will have its own website," the independent retailer wrote in accounts filed 13 long years ago.

Cash runway shortens in past four months, as mattress brand reimagines its business and taps investors for more money.

There may be a not-so-obvious impact on the furniture industry from the Government's planned Digital Services Tax.

The five-year partnership between the two businesses is coming to an end.

Sold stake in major Chinese operation at the turn of the year.

Testing, testing. While the world's biggest furniture retailer tries new things, perhaps the answer lies in acquisitions?

A balance sheet analysis of Britain's top bed companies would place Vispring relatively low in the list of Britain's most valuable mattress companies. How very misleading.

A look into the department store chain's big-ticket plans.

A look at the upholstery category shows why these tariffs matter.

Unboxing the cash situation at the emerging direct-to-consumer and wholesale mattress brand?

It seems fitting that in the same month that WorldStores is phased out as a brand by Dunelm that Argos has been named Large Online Bed Retailer of the Year.

The Co-op was once one of the UK's largest retailers of furniture, running dedicated stores and large departments in multi-category shops.

Rising input costs have been a recurring theme over the past two years.

Taskers reported a seven-figure loss in 2017–18 but there are positive signs coming from the North West business, whose ongoing restructure will complete next year.



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