These are exciting times for the UK Home Market, with many retailers and brands targeting ambitious growth. It is for this reason that it is the subject of our latest white paper which you can download or view from the links at the end of this article.
John Lewis recently announced its plans to expand its homeware and furniture business to achieve £1bn turnover by 2020. This follows on the back of CBPE acquiring Sofa.com, fast fashion players such as H&M, Zara and New Look expanding into the category, Sainsbury’s and Tesco strengthening their own homeware offering, and sector stalwarts Dunelm, Wickes, Topps Tiles and Carpetright all launching new formats. Even luxury brand Dior has launched home range with the opening of its new flagship store “The House of Dior” on London’s New Bond Street.
Meanwhile, online players are also continuing their upward trajectory, and blurring the boundaries between on and offline experience with their own takes on the traditional store concept. As Charlie Marshall, Loaf’s founder and “Head of Loafing”, declares in our in-depth interview, “old school is the new school”, with physical retail back in fashion. This reflects our own recent research, which shows that two-thirds of consumers prefer to see, touch or try furniture in store before buying.
Ecommerce stepping off our screens and onto our streets is not the only example of technology’s incursion into the real world and our homes. The connected home concept – for so long just a glint in the technologist’s eye – is also finally hitting the mass market. Following on from more established niches such as smart connected lighting (e.g. PHILIPS Hue) and smart heating (e.g. Nest; Hive), Apple finally launched its smart-home service app “Home” in June, albeit with an initially limited range of associated physical products.
Despite these developments, there are nonetheless risks and challenges. A weak pound has created cost pressures whilst big ticket furniture items, which have historically been cyclical, face the challenges of an uncertain UK economy. Yet one player’s challenge is another’s opportunity; home décor is projected by Verdict Retail to outperform all other UK Home sectors through to 2021. In addition, any slowdown in the housing market may fuel an increase in home spending as homeowners freshen up their living spaces. Ultimately, as our Dreams case study illustrates, with the right strategy there is always opportunity for great success, even if market conditions do become more challenging.