Sofa giant Dfs has begun selling beds in a select number of stores after freeing up warehouse space in the back of its shops.
Dfs chief executive Ian Filby called the areas a “one-stop shop” and said it aims to target customers who are moving house and looking for a range of furniture.
Floorings giant Carpetright has also diversified into beds and has ramped up its Sleepright business after beds specialist Dreams downsized following its acquisition out of administration last year. Dfs rival ScS has begun selling carpets alongside its core sofa offer.
Filby insisted Dfs is only selling an “edited” selection of beds and also dining furniture. “We’re not Harveys. The sofa is the primary reason [Dfs customers] come into store,” said Filby.
Shoppers have been able to buy beds online at Dfs for some time but this is the first time the sofa specialist has put them in stores. Dfs is selling beds in Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Didcot, in the back of the shops using space that was formerly used to store goods. The retailer has opened what it calls a ‘local distribution centre’ to store the goods in instead.
The in-store areas devoted to beds and dining furniture cover between 3,200 sq ft and 5,400 sq ft. Filby said Dfs will roll out the concept in the Northwest, and the initiative could be extended more broadly across the country.
“Across my estate I’ve got a high proportion of my stores with 350 sq m to 500 sq m of warehouse space,” said Filby. “You’re paying retail rent on a warehouse operation.”
He added that the launch into associated product categories will prove attractive to those buying on credit because they can purchase a range of goods and only have a single credit check.
The move comes as Dfs unveiled a drop in sales and profits in its first half. EBITDA fell 23.5% to £23.8m and sales declined 1.3% to £315.3m in its first half to January 25 as footfall dipped.
Filby said the timing of public holidays as well as unseasonably warm weather in the autumn and “bad news on consumer confidence” had affected performance in the first half.
However, Filby said trading had rebounded strongly and he remained confident regarding the full year. “This is the nature of our market,” he said. “It balances out over the 12 month period. We’re comfortable with how things are progressing.”
He said the recent uptick in consumer confidence and the growth in the housing market would help drive sales this year, but he cautioned that spending is still yet to improve.
“There’s a big slug of middle England where disposable income is down year on year,” Filby said. “That factor has not miraculously gone away. It will still be a tough year.”
Filby said the “winners” in the retail sector will be those offering “great value to young families and young couples” and those that are “developing better ranges” to attract more shoppers.
Filby said Dfs’ investment in furniture chain Dwell and before that Sofa Workshop “strengthens our appeal”. Filby declined to say how much Dfs had invested in Dwell, but said it would help Dfs target “young urban couples”. He added Dwell had a slight male bias. He said he was unsure how the partnership would play out but said the business compliments Dfs and that there are opportunities to benefit from synergies. “It’s a continuation of us looking for good opportunities to partner with brands,” said Filby.
The retailer has also “invested big time” in the last 18 months in replatforming the website, which Filby said was “absolutely flying”.