The Australian retailer taking on the world sitting down
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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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Judge Blocks Effort to Auction Graceland

Family of Elvis Presley was fighting the attempted sale, alleging fraud

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A Tennessee judge on Wednesday blocked an allegedly fraudulent attempt to auction off Graceland, the former Memphis home of music legend Elvis Presley and a major tourist destination in the state.

Elvis’s granddaughter, actress Riley Keough , says a company that had planned a Thursday sale was fake and trying to defraud the trust that owns Graceland.

Judge JoeDae Jenkins in Chancery Court in Shelby County, Tenn., granted the injunction to stop the auction, according to a court clerk. The court had granted Keough a temporary restraining order on the sale last week.

The auction was initiated by an entity called Naussany Investments & Private Lending. It had filed a public notice for a foreclosure sale in Tennessee, alleging Lisa Marie Presley , Elvis’s only child, defaulted on a $3.8 million loan it made to her. The group said it now owns Graceland because Presley defaulted on the loan.

Presley, Keough’s mother, controlled the Graceland trust until her death in January 2023 . Keough then took over as trustee.

Lawyers for Keough said Naussany’s loan documents are forgeries, and the firm “appears to be a false entity created for the purpose of defrauding” the trust that owns Graceland, Presley’s heirs or any purchaser of Graceland.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, which manages Graceland, has also said Naussany’s claims were fraudulent. “There will be no foreclosure,” said Elvis Presley Enterprises spokeswoman Alicia Dean . “Graceland will continue to operate as it has for the past 42 years.”

Keough’s lawyer declined to comment.

Naussany Investments and Kurt Naussany, named in the complaint as acting on behalf of the entity, couldn’t be reached for comment. A phone number listed in the complaint didn’t work, and emails sent to associated addresses weren’t answered. The Wall Street Journal couldn’t separately find contact information for a Kurt Naussany. A lawyer for the entity couldn’t be identified.

The Graceland complex in Memphis, which includes an exhibition center and a 450-room hotel, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Elvis bought the property in 1957, when he was 22 and an ascendant star. He died in 1977 at the age of 42 and is buried on the Graceland property. Graceland opened to the public in 1982.

Lisa Marie Presley’s mother, Priscilla Presley , reached a settlement in 2023 with Keough over who would control the trust. The settlement came after Priscilla Presley challenged a 2016 amendment to the trust filed by Lisa Marie Presley that removed her mother as trustee.

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