Upholstery imports into Britain from China are down sharply in the first five months of 2018
Market leader DFS blamed disruption to its Far East supply chain for a decline in delivered sales in recent weeks. It is unlikely to have been the only furniture retailer to suffer.


Citing problems with ships bringing containers of made-to-order products from Asia, the sofa chain last week said like-for-like turnover fell about 3 percent (see related) in the 23 weeks to July 7.

New HMRC figures compiled by The Furnishing Report indicate this is an industry-wide issue. May 2018 data showed upholstery imports fell 7.3 percent year-on-year to £60.5 million.

Of that, shipments from China — worth more than half of all sofa imports — were down nearly 21 percent compared with May 2017.

May's figures are not a blip.

So far this year (Jan–May, 2018), sofa imports from China have fallen 16 percent to £136.5 million, which compares with a 7.7 percent fall in overall upholstery arrivals into the UK from other countries.

Polish and Italian sofa imports are holding up, while other Far East nations are having some success, witness the three-fold increase in imports from Singapore to £16.1 million compared with the first five months of 2017.

So two conclusions: it appears to be an issue largely confined to China, our biggest source of foreign-made sofas; and secondly, that it most certainly isn't a factor for DFS alone.

Related Story
— DFS dented by Far East delays and hot weather