The Kingdom Keeps Growing

Following the recent asset acquisition of e-commerce furniture retailer Cuckooland, we sat down with the founder and director of Flair Furniture and Bed Kingdom, Ashley Hainsworth, to find out more about plans for the year ahead.

Earlier this year, Flair Furniture, the rapidly expanding furniture retail group that owns Bed Kingdom, acquired stock and intellectual property from Dorchester-based Cuckooland, which valued at over £800,000.

Specialising in children’s bedroom furniture, upholstery, cabinets, and outdoor furniture, Cuckooland reported a net loss exceeding £690,000 for the fiscal year 2022/23 and was subsequently placed into liquidation after experiencing issues post Covid. For Ashley Hainsworth, founder and director of Flair Furniture and Bed Kingdom, this presented an “opportunity to expand”.

“We see Cuckooland as an opportunity to expand laterally into home furnishing categories that we feel do not fit into the Bed Kingdom brand. The assets also included various components crucial to Cuckooland’s operations and this asset acquisition paves the way for us to grow. It’s a great opportunity for us to branch out and work alongside new and existing suppliers.

“We already have a strong digital presence for children’s beds through one of our biggest brands, Bed Kingdom, so acquiring Cuckooland’s website and assets made sense. We’re pleased to be in a position to nurture and expand this exceptional brand.”

As Cuckooland settles into the group, Ashley remained tight-lipped for now on their plans moving forward with the brand, but hinted that there will be “more of an update later this year”. For the core business, which has seen continued growth over the last few years, including recent recognition for Flair Furniture, being named in the Yorkshire Fastest 50 Companies list for 2024, an initiative from The Yorkshire Post and law firm Ward Hadaway to celebrate the region’s fastest-growing, privately owned companies, Ashley said there is more to come.

“We’ve had a promising few years in terms of business growth. “Last year, Bed Kingdom made the Sunday Times Top 100 list after achieving a 76.06% average annual sales growth over the past three years and Flair Furniture keeps on growing too.

“For Bed Kingdom the goal remains the same, we want to continue our trajectory and goals for 50% YoY growth. For Cuckooland, the goal is just to get the website functioning again, properly optimised and back to where it was 12 months ago.”

Adding to its 70,000sqft facility, which opened last year to house stock and become the main distribution site for its brands, the group plans to expand further with a showroom extension, in-house studio for content creation and a new website.

“We’re working on a new website to improve customers’ online shopping experience, and we’re investing in all areas of digital marketing for Bed Kingdom and Cuckooland,” Ashley revealed. “However, we can’t say too much about the website as it’s still a while away. We spent over a year deciding which platform we were going to use to ensure that it was going to be future-proof. The upgrade is needed because the website has existed now for several years and it is very difficult to make changes and developments.

“We’re also in the process of expanding our showroom and building an in-house studio for content creation. The expansion is necessary because we previously had only one showroom with limited capacity. Some customers travel a long way to visit us and are often disappointed when the products they have come to see are not there.

“The studio will give us a space to create video content for our products, which will help customers with their purchasing decisions. It will also support our goals to create better content and grow our social channels – an area where we see huge growth potential.”

With 2024 delivering a strong start for the group, the plan is to maintain this growth trajectory and keep “improving and expanding”. Ashley says: “Q1 was strong for us, and despite hearing from other retailers that their sales were down, we have been 70% up year-on-year. The downside is that we have experienced a few website errors and also have not been able to keep products in stock due to unforeseen demand. This is a big part of the reason why we feel like our performance could have been better.

“One thing we are noticing with increasing customer demand is that they are doing their due diligence and wanting to know everything about the product, such as the chemicals and materials used. I think in general, people are more sustainability-conscious and more careful about the products they have and things they consume, as many online retailers lack transparency. There are also so many online retailers selling similar products that sustainability and materials can be a real point of difference and USP for customers.”

The group is also working hard at maintaining high customer data streams, while adapting and preparing for life without the use of third-party cookies, which will become an “ongoing challenge”. Ashley said: “The death of third-party cookies means we no longer have to rely solely on first-party cookies.

“It’s more about accepting than adapting; we just have to accept that we will have less data. To combat this, we are looking into new data analytics software that can give us better insights into what is happening on our website and how customers are interacting with it. We’re confident in our strategy as we continue to expand and develop.” / /

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