If you want to learn how to grow and scale a business, you need look no further than the entrepreneurial journey taken by Lord Kirkham, founder of furniture and retail chain DFS.
He’ll be speaking at the Annual Conference about the growth strategies that took his furniture business from start-up to successful corporate and the largest of its kind in Europe.
Graham Kirkham, a coal miners son, was born and brought up in South Yorkshire and has lived in that area all his life. He left school and chose to start DFS, the vertically integrated furniture manufacturing and retailing business in 1969, rather than go into further education.
DFS was a flourishing private company for 24 years and a successful FTSE 250 company on the London Stock Exchange for 12 years. Having grown to be the largest company of its kind in Europe, Lord Kirkham succeeded in buying the business back from the shareholders in 2004 and in 2010 sold 100% of the shares to the private equity company Advent International plc.
He now runs a private family investment company, Black Diamond, with interests including retail parks, farming. Most recently he bought Iceland Frozen Foods in a £1.55 billion deal with Dubai and South African partners and the retailer’s management.
Lord Kirkham’s business achievements have been recognised with a number of honours – a Knighthood in 1995, a Peerage in 1999 and a C.V.O. in 2001
He spends a lot of time on pro-bono work including, Deputy Patron for the Outward Bound Trust, Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Deputy President of The Animal Health Trust.