DFS today unveiled ecommerce growth of 17.7% after a first half in which it focused on a strategy to grow by broadening its appeal, extending its UK presence and developing its omnichannel proposition.
The upholstered furniture retailer said its website attracted 40% of all UK upholstery web traffic in the first half of the year. During the period, it said, it had added a new product viewer and online order tracking to its website.
It also took digital technology into its stores, rolling out Swoosh furniture visualisation screens that enable customers to see products in a wider range of fabric and colour combinations. So far this is available in about half of DFS’s stores and added, DFS said in its half-year statement, “an element of retail theatre that is undoubtedly helping us to close more sales.” It added: “This underlines the complementary nature of technology and the true omnichannel experience that is essential, when today over 70% of our customers begin their research online.”
DFS continued to make the most of its retail space, converting in-store warehouses into extra etail space and putting warehouse operations into larger offsite facilities. It now has seven dedicated customer distribution centres that it says have released 108,000 sq ft of extra selling space. That has been used to show an extended DFS range, and to trial Dwell and Sofa Workshop stores alongside or within a DFS store. The retailer said it was encouraged by the performance of co-located stores, but said that while this approach delivered incremental sales, operating costs were higher.
DFS , a Top150 company in the IRUK Top500 research, today reported gross sales of £461.3m in the 26 weeks to January 30, 7% up from £461.3m at the same time last year. Sales at the core DFS brand were up by 6.2%, while Sofa Workshop and Dwell sales also increased their contribution. Pre-tax profits of £16.2m were up from a loss of £14.4m last time.
DFS chief executive Ian Filby said: “I am pleased to report continued good sales growth through the first half of our financial year, reflecting the success of our growth initiatives and the current health of the furniture market environment. Given broadly stable general macro-economic trends in the UK, we have confidence that our strong competitive position and strategic initiatives mean that the Group is well placed to sustain its record of sales growth, market share capture and cash generation over the year as a whole.”