Piper to sell Sofa Workshop to MFI?

Piper Private Equity is said to be in talks with the UK-listed furniture retailer over the sale of its majority interest in Sofa Workshop.

Piper Private Equity, the UK private equity firm specialising in retail and consumer investments, has held discussions with UK superstore furniture retailer MFI over the sale of its investee company Sofa Workshop.

The Sussex-based furniture manufacturer is majority-controlled by Piper, which made its original investment of £1.8m in the firm in 1989. Piper has since made a series of investments between 1990 and 1993 and has been actively involved in helping management grow the business. Sofa Workshop now has 24 stores nationally and a joint venture overseas.

Sofa Workshop has come onto MFI’s radar following the success of a partnership between the two companies last year. MFI’s Pilot sofa range, for which it teamed up with Sofa Workshop last year, accounted for seven per cent of MFI’s total retail turnover – which increased by 15 per cent in the six months to 15 June 2002 to stand at £424m.

MFI is looking to expand its operations to provide a wider range of products for the home, making Sofa Workshop an ideal fit. Any sale would also produce a healthy return for Piper Private Equity, which has seen Sofa Workshop’s turnover increase from £2.5m in 1990 to its current level of £34m.

A spokesperson for Piper declined to comment on the speculation. MFI was also unavailable for comment.