Sofa group DFS to roll out new stores

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The Independent Online

The sofa giant DFS yesterday shrugged off the "exceptionally demanding" conditions on the high street by announcing it had bought eight new stores.

The group, which operates 80 stores, said sales excluding VAT were down 0.7 per cent to £486m in the nine months to 30 April due to a "softening in overall consumer spending" in 2011. But underlying profits rose 3.1 per cent to £56.2m as it maintained profit margins and achieved marketing efficiencies.

The sales figures represent a slowdown on the previous half-year but the group said it has grown its share of the furniture market, which is being hit as anxious consumers delay spending on all but essential products.

DFS said that it would press ahead with its store opening plans and has bought eight more sites, which will open over the next two years. This leaves the group on-target to open 20 new stores by July 2013. It has already opened a store in Dundee on Boxing Day.

DFS has previously said it hoped to benefit from the slump in the housing market as consumers bought more furniture as part of a trend to "improve not move". Growing internet sales have also boosted the group's performance.

The chain, founded 40 years ago, was sold by founder Lord Kirkham to private equity firm Advent International for £500m in April 2010, just weeks after Lord Kirkham memorably declared that the company was not sale: "I don't need the money, I'm loaded."