DFS (DFS Furniture plc, stylised as dfs, formerly Doncaster Furniture Superstore, DFS Furniture Company plc) is a furniture retailer in the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Ireland specialising in sofas and soft furnishings. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
|Public limited company|
|Traded as||LSE: DFS|
|Headquarters||Doncaster, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom|
|Ian Durant (chairman)|
Tim Stacey (chief executive officer)
|Revenue||£913.1 million (2015)|
|£89.2 million (2015)|
|£3.2 million (2015)|
In 1969, aged 24, Graham Kirkham was married with two children, which he describes as great motivation.
Having visited a few manufacturers in his daily work, he decided that making furniture was relatively easy and that by cutting out the warehouse dealers in the middle of the supply chain, he could sell direct to the public at lower prices. Kirkham rented a room above a snooker hall in Carcroft, and started making furniture upstairs and retailing it downstairs.
By 1983, Darley Dale based Direct Furnishing Supplies, founded by Herbert Hardy in 1969, had become one of Northern Upholstery's biggest suppliers. Kirkham bought it. Northern Upholstery was renamed DFS (although branches of Northern Upholstery in Yorkshire had retained their original name until the mid 1990s) and at the time had a total of 63 stores employing 2,000 staff.
In 1993, DFS was floated on the stock market as DFS Furniture Company plc and valued at £271 million, with Kirkham and his family trusts owning just over half of the shares. This brought the Kirkham family to the attention of thieves, who in 1994 broke into the family home at Sprotbrough while they were on holiday. The burglars bound and gagged the housekeeper and made off with money and jewels worth £2.4 million, later recovered, but still South Yorkshire's largest armed robbery.
In 1998, DFS announced its first drop in profits in 28 years to the London Stock Exchange. The company reworked its advertising to feature younger models, and in 2000, DFS announced a 79 percent profit increase. But the revival was short lived, and in light of the continuing prevalence for private equity, Kirkham took the chain private again in 2004, leveraging his family's own 9.46% stake with £150 million of family funds in an eventual £496 million deal.
Kirkham told the Yorkshire Post: "It's something that's caused me fitful sleep in the time I've been thinking about it. I've no hobby, this is my hobby – it's what I do. I'm an entrepreneur. It's almost as if I can feel the adrenaline running through my veins."
On 3 April 2010, it was announced that DFS had been sold to private equity firm Advent International for a reported £500 million. DFS then acquired two smaller British retailers which had been struggling in the market: Sofa Workshop in 2013 and Dwell in August 2014. On 6 March 2015, the company floated on the London Stock Exchange again as DFS Furniture plc.
In October 2017, DFS announced they had purchased one of their competitors, Sofology (formerly Sofaworks and CSL) in a £25 million deal. The acquisition was ratified by the Competition and Markets Authority in November 2017.
In December 2008, one television commercial by DFS was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, following complaints that the company had doctored the footage to inflate the perceived size of their sofas, relative to the actors. The advert featured actors miming Nickelback's "Rockstar", while playing air guitar in front of the sofas.
- Jahshan, Elias (22 May 2018). "DFS promotes Tim Stacey to CEO as Ian Filby steps down". Retail Gazette. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
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- Blitz, Roger (20 August 2014). "DFS buys smaller furniture chain Dwell". FT. FT. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
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- "Advert banned for inflated sofas". BBC. 3 December 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
- "10 of the best - worst adverts of all time". Daily Record. 12 December 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
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