Thousands of furniture and design professionals trooped through the doors of the Fiera Milano showgrounds at Rho yesterday for day one of the 2015 iSaloni series.

cousinsDudleyFurniture independent Cousins’ product sourcing strategy paid off in 2013–14 as it made the most of a 160 basis point upswing in gross margin.

Two of Britain’s furniture ecommerce specialists are among a list of eight competing for the main prize at the Tech & Ecommerce Awards 2015.

lauraAshleyLaura Ashley said furniture like-for-likes inched up in the year to end January though overall category sales declined as it closed space dedicated to Home products.

Rent-to-own furniture and electricals chain BrightHouse says it wants to double store numbers to 600.

Department store retailer Debenhams has named Terry Duddy — former Argos CEO — as a non-executive director.

parkerKnollMontanaThe group behind the Parker Knoll, G Plan Upholstery and Duresta sofa businesses says it has laid the platform for substantial growth in 2014–15.

UK and Ireland furniture distributor VIDA Living says growing its international business will help it increase investment and reduce product cost.

Andrew Porter is investing £200k as part of a refurbishment programme at its purpose-built furniture warehouse headquarters in the North of England.

achicaSGLifestyle ecommerce retailer Achica has taken investment in the business beyond £30m with a new seven-figure rights issue.

Harrogate retailer Smiths The Rink has become the latest stockist for Spink & Edgar Upholstery, the upmarket sofa business launched by the Harrison Spinks group late last year.

freemansUS furniture chain Crate & Barrel and UK catalogue and online business Freeman Grattan Holdings were key growth drivers for the Otto group in 2014–15.

North West carpet manufacturer Penthouse said new product introductions and POS material were behind a big uplift in performance in 2013–14.

dunelmCoOut-of-town home retailer Dunelm says its will open another four stores and launch its new web platform before the end of June.

Furniture was among the few sectors to enjoy growth in March as retailers in other categories struggled, according to consultancy BDO.

Year-on-year sales fell at John Lewis last week as it struggled with tough comps against the run-up to Mother’s Day 2014 and cooler weather hindering apparel demand.

martinAndFrostHeritage Edinburgh furniture retailer Martin & Frost reopens today following a £1m refurbishment that sees both the store footprint and product offer expanded.

Home categories made sales gains at retail giant Marks & Spencer in the final three months of its 2014–15 financial year.

Industry charity The Furniture Makers’ Company (TFMC) has named Hypnos as the recipient of its Sustainability Award for 2015.

seconiqueUnderlying profits jumped 30 per cent for Seconique as the Midlands furniture wholesale group benefited from the cheaper cost of moving goods from A to B.

Luxury kitchens chain Harvey Jones launches its first ever television advertising campaign today (1st Apr) with targeted spots aimed at specific consumer demographics.

Steve Lamb has joined furniture distributor VIDA Living as key account manager for its UK business.

BandQBritain’s biggest home improvement retailer B&Q is to cut its store portfolio by 60 stores while UK and Ireland CEO Kevin O'Byrne is to leave.

Irish furniture retailers continued to make up lost ground in February as big-ticket lines — including motor cars — topped the sales charts.

Sales fell in low single digits for the UK arm of Canadian office furniture giant Global in 2013–14 as the company arrested a long-running top line decline.

natuzziFactoryUpholstery giant Natuzzi has taken a leaner product line into 2015 as it looks to build on an improving sales picture through last year.

Thousands of shoppers attended the official opening of Barker and Stonehouse’s £4.5m Stockton store this weekend.

GregSuthernFVFurniture Village has hired industry heavyweight Greg Suthern to the newly created post of chief operating officer.

Furniture retail sales growth is accelerating again with a double-digit rise in volumes recorded in February.

Home category sales were positive despite a dip in overall activity and weaker store sales at John Lewis last week.

dfs co 1Sofa group DFS’ return to the stock market will have a transformational impact on its bottom line, the retailer has confirmed.

The January Furniture Show is to back the next generation of furnishing industry leaders by sponsoring the Furniture Makers’ Company’s Young Professionals course.

InflationMar25Furniture retail price inflation has slipped below zero in eight of the past 18 months but February’s fall was the steepest yet.

North Yorkshire retailer Barkers of Northallerton is to create a dedicated contemporary furniture department as part of 20,000sqft extension of its edge-of-town furnishings store.

Furniture distributor Willis & Gambier shrugged off what remained tough market conditions to improve its top and bottom lines last year.

Consumers paid less for their furniture in February but retailers and wholesalers had no such luck, with no change to manufacturing output price inflation.

britishBedStoresBritish Bed Stores — the online bedroom retailer run by the owners of the now defunct Bed Centre UK ecommerce store — has ceased trading.

Marketplace retailer ( has named Tesco executive Simon Belsham as its CEO.

Exhibition organisers say they only have space left in Halls 2 and 3 for next year’s January Furniture Show following strong supplier demand.

cfsStoreCoFurniture retailer CFS — which trades from a number of former Land of Leather stores and lists its ex-CEO among its directors — has been sold as a going concern.

Glasgow independent Forrest Furnishings is to add 10,000sqft in shop floorspace at its South Street showrooms after accepting an offer for its Cathedral Street property.

EchoLuHomebaseMDHome Retail Group has named former Tesco UK board member Echo Lu as managing director for its Homebase retail chain.

nextHomeMaidstoneCommentary: Next is committed to investing even more in its growing Home and furniture operation, though 2014–15 wasn’t without its challenges, including taking a hefty upholstery recall hit.

Management at Whitestone, Westex and Abingdon — the three companies acquired by Victoria PLC in the past 15 months — have increased their stake in in the group.

Profits more than doubled at Corby furniture wholesaler Kettle Interiors in 2013–14 as the firm made the most of higher sales, quicker delivery and lower costs.

JohnLewisCorporateStrong growth returned for John Lewis last week with all bar five of its stores up on last year and online rising by nearly a quarter.

Fashion-to-furnishings retailer Next says new Home space is performing ahead of plan as group profits jumped 12.5 per cent in the year to end January.

Expanding the number of retail touch-points through 2014 helped luxury Swedish brand Hästens Beds to high top line growth last year.

Beds retailer Dreams is to increase its presence in and around Birmingham with a new 8,650sqft store opening on Good Friday (3rd April).

millbrookBedsBed manufacturer Millbrook is back on the path to profit after work to restructure the business and find new customers paid off, its owners have said.

Internet orders helped keep Scottish non-food retail sales ahead of last year in February, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium.

Martin Allen is to retire as managing director of Airsprung Group’s headboard division at the end of this month.

sofaworksCOUpholstery retailer Sofaworks — whose IP court battle with DFS-owned Sofa Workshop is scheduled for next month — has sold a stake in the business to help fuel its growth.

Demand for big-ticket merchandise such as furniture drove footfall to a nine-month high in February, according to stores group the British Retail Consortium.

International floorcoverings conglomerate Forbo says switching its attention to the commercial market is paying off and making up for weakness elsewhere.

neptuneShowroomUpmarket furniture and home accents brand Neptune opened a dedicated Bournemouth showroom this weekend as the business’ UK and European expansion continues.

European beds and mattress retail group Beter Bed posted higher sales and profits in 2014 despite downsizing its store portfolio by nearly 50 stores.

Sofas and carpets retailer ScS supported Red Nose Day last Friday by donating cash for every sofa sold via its website.

Chinese furniture importsBritain went shopping in China in record numbers in January as retail buyer demand for furniture showed no sign of capsizing.

Carpet imports reached a seven year high in January, according to Government data.

John Lewis sales fell last week with only three of its 40 stores open more than a year managing to beat year-earlier trading levels.

bhsSir Philip Green’s Arcadia group has sold the fashion-to-furniture retail chain BHS to Retail Acquisitions for a nominal sum.

argosCoImproving margins at Argos — one of Britain’s largest furniture retailers — helped offset top line weakness in one of its most important product categories in early 2015 trading.

A bolt-on acquisition will support major flooring distribution group Carpet & Flooring’s expansion plans through 2015 after soft market conditions last year.

AISexhibitionThe furniture and flooring categories proved there is plenty of life left in the UK independents’ sector with strong trading through 2013–14.

Members of the Associated Independent Stores retail buying group shared an improved rebate last month with the total approaching record levels.

Higher fourth quarter sales helped catalogue and online retailer N Brown to flat full year sales, as it made strategic price investments.

natuzziFactoryThere will be fewer job cuts at Natuzzi’s Italian plants after the company finalised its restructuring plan in a binding agreement with local Government and unions.

The group behind carpet producers Ryalux and Burmatex said it enjoyed top and bottom line growth in the six months to end December.

Retail sales rose in February with shoppers keen on furniture and white goods, according to the British Retail Consortium.

dfsThumbCommentary: If you ignore the cost of servicing debt then DFS is unquestionably one of Britain’s most profitable furniture businesses.

The future of furniture-to-fashion retail chain BHS will be resolved sooner rather than later with owner Sir Philip Green close to finalising a deal.

Interfloor, the company behind the Duralay and Tredaire trade brands, has named John Cooper as its new managing director.

dfsCo 2Upholstery chain DFS has set its IPO price at 255 pence per share valuing the furniture retail group at £543.2m.

Upmarket cabinet furniture firm Grange has invested £1m rationalising its property portfolio and has tailored its product line to the young and wealthy.

Flooring wholesale group Headlam grew profits by 44 per cent in 2014 as sales climbed 5.3 per cent to £635.2m.

Online sales were up by more than a quarter at John Lewis last week supported by price-matching activity.

bensonForBedsSteinhoff says upping the quality of its British store portfolio is paying off with stronger trading densities and market share gains.

Industry furniture repair specialist FIRA Service Technicians is to expand its service to take bookings directly from consumers.

recticelBrandedRecticel said its Geltex Inside product line together with foam sales to British customers were bright spots as it narrowed FY 2014 losses.

Selling space reached around 700,000sqft at off-price furnishings retailer HomeSense in the year to end January as its store footprint increased.

bespOakVancouverFurniture supplier Besp-Oak posted strong 2013–14 earnings growth as it made the most of rising wholesale demand.

Luxury beds brand Somnus has promoted a key executive to the new position of European sales and marketing director as part of a series of moves that expands its sales force.

Cabinet furniture manufacturers invested heavily in 2014 as the world’s largest woodworking machinery manufacturer and supplier enjoyed double-digit growth.

SMDiLivPrivately owned fabrics and furnishings group SMD enjoyed strong growth in 2013–14 as its iLiv brand took on greater significance.

UK representation at the Paris furniture and home accents trade fair Maison et Objet increased in January with a 4 per cent year-on-year rise.

htlSofaLeather upholstery giant HTL made the most of strong trading in Europe and foreign exchange gains to double profits in 2014.

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