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.

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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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