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Upholstery retailer Sofa.com has long been the industry’s best advert for proof that online furniture retail can be successful at both the top and bottom lines.


While others have given the impression of focussing solely on growth, Sofa.com has habitually done likewise while simultaneously delivering high profits for its shareholders.


At pre-tax level, it made just under £1m in 2011–12, £1.6m in 2012–13 and £2.8m in 2013–14, on sales of £13m, £17.6m and £21.8m respectively.


With the first filing of full disclosure accounts last week, we now know that Loaf is also successfully recording profitable growth.


It made £2m on sales of £15.9m in 2013–14 and another £2m on higher sales of £22.1m this year (to end March).


Loaf’s success — it was also voted Bed Etailer of the Year at the 2014–15 NBF Bed Industry Awards — provides more proof that furniture ecommerce can, maybe even should, be profitable from an early stage and without the need for great scale.


But it also tells us something else; that online is not all about the name.


I once argued with someone that Sofa.com — whose founders went to great lengths (and expense) to acquire its website domain — would have been successful regardless of what it was called.


Loaf — which rebranded from its former name of The Sleep Room — surely supports that argument?


The word sofa might figure prominently in a prospective buyer’s Google search,  but the word loaf is more readily associated with bread than it is lounging — or loafing — about the home.


No, other than their brevity, the two words share little in common. Sofa.com and Loaf have thus far been successful because they have managed to achieve the right alchemy of product, price, promotion and place — the four Ps of the marketing mix.


Both have ambitions to scale up significantly. Can they maintain the margins achieved so far as they continue to grow?