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Domestic Furniture. An Ireland Retail Perspective

Published: November 2000

Topline Summary

Market size

The domestic furniture market in Ireland was worth IR£649m in 1999, or £508m sterling at retail prices.

Northern Ireland accounts for £156m sterling or 31% of the total market, against IR£450m in the Republic.

The total market is forecast to grow by 17% in 2000. The Republic is projecting 20% growth against 11% in Northern Ireland.

A sustained period of economic growth (7% forecast for 2000 in ROI and 2.8% in NI), coupled with a buoyant residential housing market are the key drivers behind the furniture sector growth.
Changes in the constitution of the family unit, higher disposable incomes, the influence of fashion, combined with new lifestyle trends are all having an effect on the type of furniture which Irish consumers are purchasing.


Upholstery is the most important segment of the Irish furniture market accounting for 33% by value, followed by beds/bedroom furniture at 20%, living and dining room furniture at 18% and occasional furniture at 8%. Kitchen furniture accounts for a further 21% of the market and is sold through separate distribution channels.


Irish suppliers’ estimated share of the domestic furniture market is 28% (IR£100m) 1999/2000. Their influence is strongest in the middle market upholstery and cabinet sectors. These products are sold primarily through independent furniture specialists. Imports dominate the top and lower ends of the market, and statistics indicate that their share is continuing to grow.

Margin pressure and labour shortages are key issues affecting Irish furniture manufacturing.

In terms of quality and service Irish manufacturers are working within acceptable levels. Encouragingly, several Irish brands were listed by retailers among their best performers.


Furniture retailing is booming in the Republic with many new store openings. In Northern Ireland the market is more competitive .This is illustrated by the relative sales performance per square foot (£150-250 NI average versus IR£250-400 for the Republic) and also by the lower mark ups
in Northern Ireland.

There are an estimated 1,700 furniture retailers in the country, although the top 50 independents command 35-40% market share. Multiples have less than 25% mainly at the volume end of the market and numerous small independents control the balance.


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