Our aim is to lead furniture retailing in the digital age.
The strategy reflects the Group’s expertise, scale, assets and supporting infrastructure and the ability to use our enabling platforms to both improve the operational efficiency and the growth across our brand portfolio.
Our strategy is made up of the three pillars of our business: Our DFS brand, our Sofology brand, and our expansion into the Home market. The growth of our three pillars will be enabled by our Group enabling platforms: Technology and Data, Logistics, Sourcing and Manufacturing, and People and Culture.
With 118 showrooms in the UK and Ireland and a market leading website, the DFS brand has the sector-leading integrated retail proposition which is supported by nearly 4,000 employees across our showrooms, online team, manufacturing operations, warehousing, delivery and post sales servicing teams and support centre functions.
We have a unique and differentiated sofa offering. In addition to strong promotional and core DFS ranges, we have partnerships with a number of leading lifestyle brands which together allow us to provide all our customers with a tailored range of products. Our innovation team is focused on developing new customer propositions, and we are trialing new ranges through online customer panels before piloting them through physical showroom presence.
A key priority of our strategy is to drive the growth of the brand through developing new services to engage customers, enhancing our range and unique product offer and continued development of a seamless multi channel customer journey
The development of Sofology to become a national chain is a clear priority for us, building on its strong and distinct customer proposition. We have grown the brand's showroom estate since acquisition from 37 to over 50 and see an opportunity to further expand the portfolio with a medium-term target of 65-70 showrooms.
The vision of the group has changed from ‘leading sofa retailing in the digital age’ to ‘leading furniture retailing in the digital age’ and we see our expansion into the Home market as key to our strategy going forward.
Upholstered beds and mattresses in particular provide a sizable opportunity for the Group, with a core market size of £3bn per annum, and the Group’s ambition to grow share of this attractive market to 4% in the medium term. We see beds and mattresses as having significant market adjacency and attractiveness to the Group. We know that existing customers are twice as likely to consider us than those who haven’t shopped with us before, therefore we see a big opportunity to cross-sell to customers. We have the ability to leverage our existing group platforms such as our exclusive brand partnerships, customer delivery network, sourcing and manufacturing capabilities, web and logistics platforms, our marketing expertise and our Intelligent Lending Platform.
We have a strong business model today with inherent advantages relative to competitors. According to independent market research our Group has a 36% share in the upholstery sub-sector of the living room furniture market and we are over three times the size of our nearest competitor. We are able to utilise our platforms at scale to drive performance in turn generating market leading operating margins, strong free cash flows and good rates of return on capital.
Over the past few years, the Group has invested heavily in its collection and use of technology and data, with the ambition of our data platforms being to unlock new growth for our brands and to drive operational efficiencies in our cost base. Examples of recent investments include the development of our Intelligent LendindiPlatform (which reduces the time to serve customers, allows complete-at-home functionality, soft credit searches and simpler second line referrals), our workforce optimisation planning tool (that predicts footfall weeks ahead enabling optimal staffing levels to increase conversion) and our Apollo logistics planning tool (that uses advanced algorithms to optimise fleet utilisation and minimise distances travelled, fuel consumption and reliance on third party delivery partners).
Our group logistics platform, the Sofa Delivery Company was launched in June 2021, with the objective of providing the best delivery service in the market for our customers and our colleagues. This involved merging our DFS and Sofology delivery networks into a single combined network, improving both the service for our customers as well as cost efficiency savings. Significant progress has been made integrating both brands onto common systems, utilising the same warehousing, resources and vehicles and creating a distribution network that is the ‘right size’ for the Group’s scale with further cost saving opportunities available as these intiatives progress.
As a Group, we have a significant competitive advantage from our sourcing and manufacturing. We have been producing made-to-order sofas for over 50 years, and for over 20 years we have developed partnerships around the world with the biggest furniture manufacturers. Our capacity, design style and business model are hard to replicate, and our scale gives cost price advantages.We look to continually improve the efficiency and performance of our manufacturing sites. Over the next few years, we will be further investing in our manufacturing to create the UK’s most responsible, resilient, flexible and efficient manufacturing operation and aim to increase capacity for DFS and Sofology.
We have over 50 years of expertise and recruit and retain what we believe are the highest calibre people in the industry. To best serve our customers, we focus strongly on our people, emphasising training and fair, performance-driven reward, and have been recognised as a ‘Sunday Times Top 25 Big Company To Work For’.