End of the MFI name as Walker Group make changes

The former furniture giant MFI which was re-launched as an online retailer following its demise in December 2008 and whose name was bought by plumbing company the Walker Group for a reported £250,000 from administrator MCR in 2010 has now ceased to trade following the announcement that its sister company, online bathroom retailer VictoriaPlum.com, is to add bedroom furniture to its offering.

When MFI was initially relaunched the announcement at the time was that the online retailer would concentrate on bathrooms, bedrooms and living room furniture with a company spokesman confirming “MFI will be selling everything bar kitchens,” yet it seems more and more product ranges were taken away from the MFI name which before several years of turmoil and at its peak boasted some 200 stores, selling more than 50 million items a year to 2.5 million households.

Hull-based owner VictoriaPlum.com, which was previously called Victoria Plumb before a rebrand this month, will begin selling bedroom furniture later this summer.

VictoriaPlum.com chief marketing officer Ben Padley said: “The reason for Jason Walker acquiring MFI was to understand the bedroom and furniture market.”

Padley added the decision to close MFI was not a knee-jerk decision and was part of a long-term transition plan, which has involved winding down marketing for MFI. The retailer has carried out research that suggested customers “are very much predisposed towards buying other elements of the home” from VictoriaPlum.com which is backed by private equity firm TPG, which is also a backer of taxi app Uber, and had revenues of £53m for the year ending February 2014

A message on MFI’s website reads: “Due to the ongoing expansion of our sister company VictoriaPlum.com into home furnishings, we’ve taken the decision to close MFI. All operations have now been transferred to VictoriaPlum.com.”

It is not expected that Walker Group will sell on the MFI name and many in the home furnishings industry perhaps didn’t expect the MFI name to last this long after its years of difficulties and poor perception amongst consumers so the news of the name ceasing to exist will likely not come as a shock.