MFI Retail

MFI Retail

company_name = MFI Retail Limited
company_type = Limited
slogan = Quality Built In
foundation = 1964
location = London
industry = Furniture retailing
products = Kitchens Bedrooms Bathrooms Sofas Living room furniture
homepage = [ MFI ]

MFI Retail Limited, usually referred to simply as MFI, is a national British furniture retailer. It is one of the largest suppliers of kitchens and bedroom furniture in the UK. Its stores are mainly in retail parks in out-of-town locations. It is owned by private equity firm, Merchant Equity Partners.

The company was founded in London in 1964 by Noel Lister and Donald Searle and was called Mullard Furniture Industries. Mullard was Searle's wife's maiden name.cite web|url=|title=MFI sold for £1 and repackaged as Galiform|publisher=The Guardian|date=September 23 2006] For a short time in the 1980s MFI and Allied Carpets were part of the ASDA-MFI Group plc.

MFI offers a full range of furniture for bedrooms, bathroooms, kitchens, lounges, dining rooms and home offices. It is particularly associated with self-assembly furniture.

Between the periods 2000 - 2005 MFI also maintained a presence within Currys superstores, via rented floorspace, and was known as Hygena at Currys. However, this concession was dissolved by mutual agreement in late 2005.

Its products are mainly targeted to value-oriented customers with the "Hygena" brand, and those on a higher income with the "Schreiber" brand. MFI is also one of the largest suppliers of installed appliances in the UK with its own brand "Diplomat". New and exclusive to MFI is its "Space Genie" range which are ingenious storage solutions for the kitchen and bedroom. MFI sells beds directly from Silentnight, Rest Assured and Layezee, and also sells dining furniture from The Chair Company. Other MFI brands include "Viva Sofa" and "The Bath Co."

In September 2006, MFI's maufactuing arm was renamed Galiform PLC. The loss making retail arm was then sold to Merchant Equity Partners for £1, whilst retaining Howden Joinery builders merchants. [ [ BBC NEWS | Business | MFI sells store chain in £1 deal ] ]

In order to reduce losses MFI has closed many of its Uk manufacturing facilities and instead focuses on procuring goods from overseas. [ [ BBC NEWS | Business | MFI sells store chain in £1 deal ] ]

Following the acquisition of MFI, the company is seeking to upgrade many aspects of the business, including greater focus on customer service; updating and improving the product range; improving utilisation of floor space; establishing closer supplier relationships; investing in logistics, IT, supply systems and product development and enhancing internal communications.

Today MFI has over 190 stores across the UK of between 15,000 & 30,000 square feet. Home deliveries amount for over 50 million items a year going to 2.5 million households in the UK & Northern Ireland.


MFI has been criticised for the excessive frequency and length of its sales. In a six month survey by consumer magazine Which? it emerged that 4 out of 5 kitchen in the "sale" had never actually been sold at the higher price against which the discount claims were being made. Which? stated that "MFI's pricing policy deceives its customers into thinking they are getting a better deal than they are. In some cases, its pricing is downright misleading". MFI's advertising of such sales also came in for criticism for using phrases such as "Hurry! Only four days left" or "Prices too good to last" even though a new sale would almost always be launched immediately afterwards. [ [ MFI accused over all-year 'sales' | This is Money ] ]

MFI is also known for being one of the first ever companies to be investigated by the BBC programme "Watchdog". The programme attempted to buy a £600 kitchen advertised by MFI, though the advert was misleading and the price only actually included kitchen units but not the appliances shown. [ [ BBC - Press Office - Watchdog 25th anniversary ] ]


In September 2007 MFI was forced to withdraw a television advert featuring a woman slapping her husband in the face twice and shouting at him for leaving the toilet seat up. Those complaining felt that the advert trivialised the issue of domestic violence against men. The ASA concluded that it "was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to viewers and could be seen to condone intimidation, domestic violence and aggression as an acceptable way to resolve issues". The ASA went as far as to state that "it could also cause social, moral or psychological harm to children" and they were "concerned that it had been broadcast at all". As a result the advertisement was banned. [ [ ASA adjudications: MFI Retail Ltd] ]


Amid difficult trading conditions MFI's owner MEP revealed on September 27th 2008 that the company would be placed into administration if a buyer could not be found, with a management buy-out a strong possibility.


External links

* [ MFI Website]
* [ Merchant Equity Partners]

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