Strong sales make up for DFS’s summer sun drought

Have your say

The summer heatwave hit profits at sofa giant DFS, but the group said it is confident it can make up lost sales and outperform the market.

The hottest July since 1976 meant that people enjoyed the sunshine rather than visiting DFS’s showrooms and sales saw a sharp dip in July.

However trading has since picked up.

DFS’s chief executive Ian Filby said: “We’re much more encouraged by the last few weeks’ footfall. We have entered our major trading period, the winter sales, which started two weeks ago and it’s going really well.

“We should experience a really strong trading period.”

He added that strong positive and negative fluctuations are typical as demand is driven by what people do over the weekend.

“If you go back to 2011/12, we had a very similar first half performance,” he said. “It’s something we’re used to.”

The Doncaster-based group said earnings fell 29 per cent to £7.2m in its first quarter to October 26.

Sales slipped from £144m to £142.5m.

The first three months of the group’s financial year traditionally make the smallest contribution to full year sales and profit.

During the quarter DFS opened two new stores in Liverpool and Ipswich, and will open a further new store in Torquay before Christmas, taking it to the milestone of 100 DFS stores in the UK and Ireland.

“We get to 100 stores on Saturday. It’s very exciting,” said Mr Filby.

He added that the group’s factory in Doncaster is running at record levels of production after switching to a full double shift.

Following the change in working practices the number of jobs at the factory have risen from the original 170 to just under 300.

DFS now employs just over 700 people in Yorkshire.

The group recently launched a new website, designed for the growing number of customers who access the DFS website through tablets and mobile phones.

Mr Filby said a new brand partnership with premium brand Sofa Workshop will broaden the group’s appeal to wealthier customers.