MFI returns as online venture with Hull HQ

30th Nov 2011 Yorkshire

MFI returns as online venture with Hull HQ

Flatpack furniture business MFI has re-launched as a Hull-headquartered online retailer three years after its high-profile collapse. Commercial director Adrian Storr told Insider MFI could offer better value operating online without being "saddled" with shop costs. The brand was acquired by private equity firm Walker Capital for £250,000 in August 2009.

MFI, which was established in 1963 by Noel Lister and Donald Searle as Mullard Furniture Industries, collapsed in 2008 with the loss of more than 1,200 jobs, leaving about 30,000 customers out of pocket. But Storr said feedback carried out by the owners suggested the brand could make a successful return despite its earlier failure.

"I think everybody appreciates that unfortunately when businesses or retailers go into administration and then liquidation some customers lose out financially," he said.

"With the feedback we've had we believe MFI will be welcomed back."

After its original launch, MFI became a public company in 1971 and entered into partnerships with Asda and Schreiber Furniture in the 1980s.

The company was one of the UK's best-known retail brands, operating more than 100 branches, before market forces and competition led to its decline.

Storr claimed that MFI was a very successful online retailer before its collapse, particularly with the products the online business will be selling.

"We believe that the best value for the customer would be to re-launch the brand without saddling it with the cost of shops which we think held back the business previously," said Storr.

"By launching as an online retailer we don't have to sell at the margins that our competitors do because we haven't got those shop costs."

He added: "Purchasing patterns are changing with consumers and we know people are becoming much more comfortable purchasing goods online."

The business is based in Hull with a central warehouse facility in Carnaby, Bridlington, and will have a dedicated contact centre based in the city and operated by Kingston Communications.

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