Kirkham to raise pounds 60m in share sale

Former high-street salesman reaps handsome reward for his one- man furniture venture

Graham Kirkham, the son of a Yorkshire miner who left school at 16 with no O levels, is to raise pounds 60m by selling one-third of his 52 per cent stake in DFS Furniture, the three-piece-suite retailer he founded 26 years ago.

Mr Kirkham said the share sale came in response to repeated phone calls from institutions anxious to buy shares in what is a very tight market. Ever jokey and amiable, he admitted, that his motives were not completely altruistic - he wouldn't be sorry to accept the money.

The proceeds of the share sale will bolster the pounds 130m he took away from DFS's 1993 flotation, when he sold 48 per cent of the family-owned business. Even after the disposal, Mr Kirkham will retain a stake of about 35 per cent in the furniture retailer, worth more than pounds 100m at yesterday's closing price of 345p.

News of the share sale accompanied strong full-year profit figures for the 12 months to July and a special 10p dividend to shareholders to reduce the company's fast growing cash pile. Pre-tax profits jumped 23 per cent to pounds 26.23m despite flagging consumer demand and a moribund housing market, normally a prerequisite for growing sales of household goods.

Even before the special payout, the underlying dividend growth was a healthy 15 per cent from 7.2p a share to 8.3p.

A keen collector, Mr Kirkham agreed the art market would welcome his decision to release another slice of his considerable wealth. He remains resolutely unimpressed by money, keeping a substantial art and antiques collection in a beautiful Georgian mansion, Cantley Hall, where he occasionally entertains, but chooses to live in an unassuming four-bedroom modern house a few miles away.

Mr Kirkham remained tight-lipped about his plans for the pounds 60m, but he dismissed suggestions that he would dilute his interest in DFS by sinking the money into yachts or football clubs - "DFS is not a job, it's a way of life" - and laughed off suggestions that he would repeat a recent multi- million pound loan to the Tory party.

After a year during which the company paused for breath, opening just one new outlet at the end of the financial period, DFS also announced an ambitious expansion programme and a move out of its Midlands and Northern heartland into southern England.

Six new openings are planned both this year and next and a target of 100 shops compares with 32 now. Despite the growth plans analysts believed more special dividends were likely in future years as the company continued to throw off more cash than it could spend opening new shops.

Mr Kirkham's proposed share sale is the latest reward for the former salesman at Hardys, a high-street furniture chain that became part of Harris Queensway. Impatient with working for someone else, he struck out in 1969 and set up DFS. The model of vertical integration, DFS made its own furniture upstairs, bringing it down to the showroom. Mr Kirkham was delivery man, salesman and accountant; he even cut the material.

Investment column, page 24

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Debt Collector - Multiple Roles

£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Apprentice Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£11000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This financial company offer ma...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen