Success Stories

Success Stories: DFS


Founded over 40 years ago, DFS was once a small family run business and is now one of the biggest furniture retailers on the high street. Wholesale Scout looks at the company’s rise to success.

The DFS business was founded in 1983 by Graham Kirkham after he had spent time building his own furniture manufacturing business. In 1969 Kirkham worked for a furniture store but after visiting manufacturers and looking into how furniture was made during his daily work role, Kirkham wanted to begin his own furniture manufacturing business. Shortly after quitting his job Kirkham rented a room above a local snooker hall and began making furniture, using the downstairs of the store to sell his pieces directly to consumers.

The company, called Northern Upholstery, was a big success as Kirkham continued to design and sell furniture directly to the public. In 1983 one of the company’s biggest suppliers, Direct Furnishing Supplies, became bankrupt and so Kirkham bought it. He rebranded his own business to become DFS and the 1980’s saw the company open 63 stores with around 2,000 staff members.

In 1993 DFS was floated on the stock market and valued at £271 million, just ten years after the brand’s inception. In the following years the chain was made private once again and in 2010 it was sold to a private equity firm for an estimated £500 million.

Now DFS is the UK’s second biggest furniture retailer (second to Ikea). There are 74 stores across the country, 3 manufacturing centres and over 2,600 staff members working for the company.

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