Ikea poised to overtake MFI as UK favourite

IKEA, THE Swedish store group that has been urging the UK to stop being so British, is poised to overtake MFI as the country's most popular supplier of furnishings.

The British company has been branded "unimaginative" and "slow to respond to consumers' desire for more contemporary styles and higher quality designs" as reflected in the popularity of such television shows as the BBC's Changing Rooms, presented by the vivacious Carol Smillie. So said Verdict, a specialist consultancy, in a survey of the sector being published today.

Although the UK company is still the market leader, rival groups such as Ikea and Argos have benefited from MFI's sluggishness and, as a result, the firm's market share has fallen from 11.6 per cent in 1995 to 8.4 per cent in 1998.

A spokesman for MFI said: "We would not take issue with the numbers, but there is a question mark over Verdict's interpretation of these figures."

He said the fall in the company's market share came after the firm de- listed 7,000 of its 12,000 products in order to focus on the profitable kitchens and bedrooms sectors.

Verdict says consumers fuelled with ideas from magazines and television home improvement programmes such as Changing Rooms are seeking more informal styles that contrast with the traditionally conservative UK market, where darker woods, patterned textiles and more cluttered looks prevail.

Verdict warns: "UK players should sharpen up their acts lest more innovative Continental and American operators should follow the lead of Ikea and steal market share from under their noses."

Verdict forecasts that the furniture sector will enjoy a boom in the second half of 1999 because of the effects of an increase in housing transactions, the millennium feelgood factor and latent demand due to purchases deferred from last year, when total furniture sales were pounds 9.4bn.

MFI has become a prime takeover target after the company's full-year profit fell 70 per cent as the cost of trimming back product lines compounded a general drop in consumer demand.

Verdict also criticises floorcoverings companies such as Carpetright and Allied Carpets.

The report says these retailers have failed to move with their market. Demand has been growing for hard floorcoverings but, according to the research, there is an absence of a dedicated, broad-focused specialist offering customers a competitive pricing proposition for these products.

Verdict says the floorcoverings sector is set to recover from a slow period this year because most people replace their carpets every five to seven years and the last buoyant year was 1993.

Consumer spending in this sector fell by 3 per cent to pounds 2.3bn in 1998.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones