Labour holds no fears for DFS

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The Independent Online
Sir Graham Kirkham, whose family is one of the biggest financial backers of the Conservative Party, yesterday gave a qualified thumbs-up to Labour. He believed his DFS Furniture business would prosper whichever government was in power.

Sir Graham, accused last year by Labour's deputy leader, John Prescott, of "buying" a knighthood with donations to the Tories, said he had no fear of discrimination under Labour.

The DFS boss, who became a multi-millionaire after leaving school with no O-levels, said: "I have never met John Prescott but I don't think it [what he said] was personal."

Announcing the latest set of DFS interim results, Sir Graham revealed that his senior management believed retailers prospered more under Labour governments. Sir Graham said he supported the Conservatives but explained: "We have traded under both [Labour and Conservative] and we have to maximise our profits under both."

Sir Graham believed the introduction of a minimum wage by Labour would not affect his business. Jon Massey, chief operating officer at DFS, downplayed any potential impact from Labour adopting the European Union's Social Chapter. He said any such legislation would affect all companies in Britain equally and not disadvantage just DFS.

There have been no corporate donations from DFS to the Tories. But there was a loan of pounds 4m from Sir Graham's son, whose wealth was created by the Doncaster-based sofa business.

The company reported a 24 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to pounds 18.7m while sales soared 44 per cent to pounds 126.3m. The figures were buoyed by the opening of stores. Like-for-like sales from comparable stores were up 3.3 per cent.

Investment column, page 24