February 6, 2019 / 2:39 PM / 2 months ago

UK's Made.com sales jump as furniture shifts online

* Revenue up 37 pct in 2018

* UK revenue up 34 pct, overseas up 40 pct

* CEO sees one third UK online penetration in long term

LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - British online furniture retailer Made.com reported on Wednesday a 37 percent surge in full-year revenue, in a sign shoppers are overcoming their reluctance to make expensive purchases for their homes online.

Compared with product categories like books, clothing and electricals, furniture sales have been slow to shift to the internet, mainly because consumers traditionally wanted to touch and try out high value items like chairs, sofas and beds.

But Made.com Chief Executive Philippe Chainieux said that was changing as a new generation of internet savvy consumers enter the furniture market.

“It’s a little bit counter-intuitive but I really believe that furniture is a great category for online,” he told Reuters.

“If you look at the trading updates across Europe in our category everybody has mentioned that the online mix of their revenue is growing massively,” he said.

IKEA, the world’s biggest furniture retailer said in November it was investing heavily to improve its online offering.

Chainieux said that currently some 10-15 percent of the UK furniture market is online. He reckons it will be 20 percent in five years and one third in the long term.

Made.com was founded in 2010 by Brent Hoberman, the co-founder of the lastminute.com travel website, along with Ning Li, Julien Callede and Chloe Macintosh. Its other investors are Partech Ventures, Level Equity and Eight Roads Ventures and an unidentified “tier one” global institution.

The firm, whose strategy is to sell high-end designed furniture at accessible prices, said its revenue was 173 million pounds ($224 million) in 2018.

UK revenue increased 34 percent to hit 100 million pounds for the first time, accounting for 58 percent of total turnover. Overseas revenue rose 40 percent to 73 million pounds.

Chainieux said the start-up broadly broke even in 2018.

He said continental Europe was set to overtake Britain as the retailer’s biggest market in 2019, partly driven by a launch into Spain last October and launches this year into Portugal, Italy, Denmark and Sweden, taking its total number of markets across Europe to 13.

Though Made.com only sells online it does operate six showrooms, including flagships in London and Paris. It plans to open more showrooms in Europe, the first in Hamburg in the spring.

$1 = 0.7718 pounds Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter

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