Sofas tycooon Lord Kirkham has sold his DFS chain to private equity firm Advent International for an undisclosed sum.

Former Alliance Boots chief executive Richard Baker, an Advent operating partner, will take over from founder Kirkham as chairman. Kirkham will retain a stake in the 74-store business and said the deal represented “the start of an exciting new phase in the company’s development”.

Potential suitors circled DFS earlier this year, but it appeared that no deal could be done. Kirkham said then that he did not need to sell the business, which he established 40 years ago and turned into the number one sofas specialist.

Kirkham said: “”Advent’s investment in DFS is undoubtedly the start of an exciting new phase in the
company’s development.

“Richard Baker’s track record, style and approach fill me with absolute confidence that DFS will grow and strengthen under his leadership. I will continue to hold a financial interest in DFS and will wholeheartedly support Richard in his new role as chairman and look forward to ensuring a smooth transition of ownership.”

Baker said: “I am very much looking forward to building on Graham’s achievements as I take on my new role as chairman of DFS under Advent’s ownership.

“This is an exciting time for everyone associated with the business as it embarks on its next phase of growth. I look forward to working with chief operating officer Jon Massey, finance director Bill Barnes and the rest of the management team to continue to develop DFS’ market leading position.”

Advent International director Andy Dawson said: “Advent’s global retail experience allowed us to recognise that although the business operates in a sector which has been difficult for some retailers, DFS is unique.

“The company’s relative size and reputation as market leader has allowed it to perform well during
the downturn. We intend to build on these strong foundations and evolve the existing business model in order to access more customers, through new store rollout, online and brand development.”