MFI Group is the largest furniture manufacturer, and one of the largest retailers, in the United Kingdom. It comprises the manufacturing brands Hygena and Schreiber, and the retail brands MFI Homeworks, MFI International and Howden Joinery. The furniture sold is typically of the flat-pack variety, appealing to the booming DIY market in Britain.
MFI Group has become synonymous with cheap, flat-pack furniture, and their products can typically be seen in the homes of first time buyers or the petit bourgeois, spurred on by the popularity of such programmes as Changing Rooms to think that flat-pack furniture is the height of chic.
MFI was founded in 1964 by Noel Lister and Donald Searle as Mullard Furniture Industries, based in Edgware, London. The name came from Searle's wife's maiden name. They quickly began to specialise in flat-pack furniture, initially selling it by mail order, and then through a number of high street shops. Business was so successful that in 1974, the company was listed on the Stock Exchange. Since then it has grown quickly, floating on the Stock Exchange successfully in the early 1990's.
MFI Homeworks is the derivative of the first furniture stores the company ran. It changed name in 1994, to give a more contemporary feel. It is the leading seller of kitchens, bedrooms and integrated appliances in the UK, with a market share of over 30%. A possible reason for the shops' success is the fact that MFI Group seeks only to sell products manufactured by its subsidiaries or corporate allies. Consequently, MFI Homeworks sells only the following brands, along with a few others: Hygena (kitchens and bedrooms); Schreiber (kitchens and bedrooms); Bosch (appliances); Diplomat (appliances); Silentnight (beds); Slumberest (beds); Rest Assured (beds); and Home-2-Office.
MFI Homeworks operates over 180 out-of-town stores in the UK, ranging in size between 15,000 and 25,000 square feet.
Hygena Cuisines was formed in 1983 to sell Hygena products to the French market. Today, it operates 120 stores and 27 depots across France. Since 1997, they have also been selling fitted bathrooms. They say that their vision is to become the number 1 choice for kitchens in France by:
MFI International was set up in 1995 to sell MFI furniture in other countries through business partners where MFI does not want to set up a company-owned operation. Such arrangements exist in Norway, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Taiwan, Russia and China. The company also has 'other business interests' in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Madeira, the Phillipines and Uganda.
Howden Joinery was founded in 1995, and today operates 200 stores throughout the UK, and is the fastest-growing trade outlet in the UK. The chain aims to sell the best kitchens, bathrooms and joinery at the 'best local price'.