dunelmStoreHOME furnishings retailer Dunelm is to acquire the assets of online furniture and home retailer Worldstores group, accelerating its expansion into the big-ticket ecommerce space.

The deal was announced to the stock market this morning (Monday 28th November) and is worth £8.5 million. It also includes the members-only lifestyle retailer Achica, and the nursery retailer Kiddicare, both acquired by Worldstores in the past two years.

Worldstores was set up by Joe Murray and Richard Tucker in 2008, and expanded rapidly to become a circa £76 million turnover business by January 2015.

The Worldstores group management, including the founders, will continue to run the group and be appropriately incentivised, Dunelm said in a statement.

Worldstores bought Kiddicare at the end of September 2014 has since added Achica, which shared investors in common with Worldstores prior to the transaction.

Achica made a £14.7 million pretax loss in 2014, its latest filed accounts, with Worldstores losing £6.5 million in 2014–15, boosted by negative goodwill from its Kiddicare acquisition.

Group turnover is now in the order of £100 million, Dunelm said, with employee numbers totalling around 650.

John Browett, CEO of Dunelm, said: "We are excited by this opportunity to accelerate the growth of our internet operation, more than doubling its size, and enhancing our position as the destination homewares retailer in the UK, both online and offline.

“Between the store network, broad product range and strong brand that Dunelm has built and Worldstores' extensive homewares and furniture offer and unique platform for next day delivery and flash sales, we will strengthen our leading position as the UK's Home of Homes."

Richard Tucker and Joe Murray, Worldstores' founders, said: "We're delighted to be working with Dunelm, in whom we have found a partner who shares our vision for our company and brands, and is backing our ambitious plans for growth."

Dunelm added that it currently expects that in its financial year ending 1st July 2017, from the date of acquisition, the Worldstores group will incur trading losses of around £5–10 million. In Dunelm's financial year ending 30th June 2018, the first full year of ownership, it is expected that it will be at least breakeven.

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