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The Australian retailer taking on the world sitting down

After almost half a century in Australia, the furniture brand has started taking on the world, one sofa at a time

By Robyn Willis
Mon, Sep 4, 2023 11:38amGrey Clock 4 min

When the newly appointed CEO of King Living, David Woollcott, first started with the Australian furniture retailer last year, he admits he was puzzled by the price point for their popular range of sofas.

“I was questioning why we don’t charge more for our product,” he said. “With the Jasper (sofa), which starts from around $4000, we could charge $7000 or $8000.”

The galvanised steel-framed sofas, which come with a 25-year warranty, have a strong following in Australia where they are a popular choice for those looking for affordable style that will last. The range includes sofas and armchairs in a variety of styles designed to be flexible enough to suit any space, or lifestyle, at a price point that is deliberately accessible.

King Living CEO David Woollcott

Central to the success of King Living, which started as a mother and son enterprise with David King and his mother Gwen in the 1970s, has been the decision to keep design, manufacturing and retailing under the one roof. Woollcott said it places King Living in a rare position in the market.

“We are in control, which is exciting for the consumer,” he said. “We know how our product is made and where the materials are sourced and we are acting as one entity. That instils trust.” 

It also means there are no additional players looking to add further costs.

“We don’t support a third party, so the additional margin we invest in quality,” he said.

King Living has marked their time in the Australian market with the re-release of its first piece of furniture, now known as the 1977 sofa. A surprisingly contemporary-looking chair designed to be ‘built’ piece by piece to create a modular sofa of your choice to suit small or large spaces, it embodies the kind of relaxed elegance Australian design has become known for.

The 1977 King Living sofa was recently re-released. It can be mixed and matched to any configuration.

It’s a design aesthetic and business model Woollcott said has been embraced as King Living expanded into markets in Singapore and Europe in recent years with North America to follow soon.

“What delineates us is that we are a designer, manufacturer and retailer of furniture — that is really unique,” he said. “There are many businesses who do the retail bit and they source from factories around the world. But we are in control, which is exciting for the consumer.” 

While the size of living spaces vary significantly across Europe, Asia and North America, Woollcott said there is enough variation and flexibility in the range to accommodate customers’ needs, whether it is the generous proportions of the Jasper and Kato sofas or the more compact Aura and Fleur designs. While best known for their sofas, King Living also has an extensive range of dining furniture, as well as beds, floorcoverings, lighting and storage options. Their outdoor furniture range is also gaining a strong following, taking the same approach to the design and construction of their interior furniture and translating it for  outdoor spaces.

And it’s not just the Australian market taking notice.

“Australian design is globally loved because it has a casual nature to it,” he said. “It’s informal, which doesn’t mean it is less sophisticated or less detailed. 

“Coming from the UK where it is all about the class structure and formality, Australia is the antithesis. It’s warm, approachable and casual.”

The King Cove reclining sun lounge is part of the popular outdoor furniture range.

Having spent the past five years in Europe as managing director of Fisher & Paykel UK & Europe, Woollcott is aware that customers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of their products. The ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ ethos is nothing new to King Living, he said.

“What stunned me when I met (founder) David King, they have acted sustainably from day one because they have made that link with waste not being a good thing,” he said. “It’s all about resources. I don’t think there would be a business leader out there who would not see the link between preserving resources and saving money.”

King Living also offers their King Care service, a commitment to recover or completely refurbish sofas for a cost, whether they were manufactured in 1977 or 2023.

While it may seem like a lot of fuss over a sofa, Woollcott noted that this key piece of furniture is often the backdrop to family life for years.

“Memories are made on our furniture and the sofa can end up becoming a member of the family,” he said. “Our furniture is designed to last for generations — and to be reconditioned.

“They take on a personality of their own.”


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The home building market is on the rebound as building approvals rise, new data reveals.

Information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the total number of dwellings approved in August was up 7 percent seasonally adjusted, with apartments leading the way.

Private sector house approvals gained 5.8 percent in August while private sector residences excluding houses were up 9.4 percent. This follows on from a decrease of 14.6 percent in July and indicates a solid recovery in the Australian construction sector as the end of the year approaches.  

Approvals for total dwellings were strongest in the two largest states, with Victoria recording a rise of 22.2 percent and NSW 12.5 percent. Western Australia also saw a significant rise of 12.3 percent.

In Queensland, the results were less positive for the sector, with total dwelling approvals falling by -26.9 percent. Tasmania also experienced a drop in approvals in August, down -10.1 percent and South Australia -6.9 percent.


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