DFS [IRDX RDFS] today set out how it was investing in the customer experience as it works to combat falling profitability despite growing sales.
The sofa specialist, a Top250 retailer in IRUK Top500 research, unveiled gross sales of £990.8m in the year to July 29, 1.1% up on the previous year, while revenue of £762.7m was 0.9% up on last time. But pre-tax profits of £50.1m were 22.3% down on last time.
The retailer said its profits had been hit as consumer spending weakened, while sterling stayed weak against the dollar.
DFS chief executive Ian Filby said: “We have continued to make good strategic progress across all our key areas of growth, while our financial performance reflects the current challenges of the UK furniture market. In particular we were delighted to announce the acquisition of Sofology and the exclusive licensing partnership with the British lifestyle brand Joules.
“Historically DFS has been able to build its market leading position and generate strong cashflow for shareholders in all environments by leveraging its fundamental strengths. Our recent strategic investments and operating efficiency programme support our confidence in our ability to deliver modest profit growth and cash returns in the current financial year and we continue to have excellent prospects for the long term.”
Here’s what the sofa retailer said about its multichannel strategy.
DFS focused on broadening its appeal to customers and said it had achieved its long-term plan to gain a 25% share of the aspirational consumer market.
The retailer is also targeting customers overseas, expanding its Dutch store network by four to six, and opening its second store in Spain, targeting the expat community there.
Over the year its net promoter score rose to 85.2%, up from 83.9% in the previous year.
More than 40% of traffic specific to DFS’ specialist market now comes to dfs.co.uk, the retailer said. “An effective web presence is of critical importance, given the multiple roles the site now plays: as a showroom when customers begin their research, as a significant transactional channel, and now as a key tool in customer service.
It is also investing in the customer experience, improving visibility and control while also reducing customer service costs as shoppers use online to ask questions, track their orders and complete payments. The retailer also opened a dedicated clearance website, offering ex-showroom models and showing live availability. That, it said, allowed it “to clear our limited stock more effectively.”
DFS has a strategy of colocating Dwell and Sofa Workshop alongside DFS stores in space previously used for warehousing. In the last year it opened 15 new co-located Dwell stores, and it aims in due course to have 25 co-located Sofa Workshop stores.
The retailer is to shut its national distribution centre, since its finished orders are now delivered to more local customer distribution centres.
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