History museum

The Natural History Museum signs an agreement to manufacture cushions, candles and sheets with Dunelm

Nick Wilkinson, CEO of the upholstery retailer, said the museum’s new lines would be “deliberately educational” as Dunelm tries to capitalize on growing interest in environmental issues among shoppers.

He said: “Our customers will want to buy products that make them feel good.”

150 lines will be launched initially, covering furniture, fragrances, art and toys, with another 100 lines launching in the fall. Prices start from £10 for a cushion.

Children with the new Dunelm range

/ dunelm

The products feature images of wild animals and dinosaurs. Examples include ‘The Riverbank duvet cover and pillowcase set’, which says it underlines how ‘the vital importance [wetlands are] to support the abundance of plants and animals that thrive in these unique and complex ecosystems.

Analysts at investment broker Peel Hunt said, “Dunelm is moving in tandem with consumers.”

Skeptics can say that the lines are remarkably similar to traditional nature and dinosaur-inspired products offered by other retailers.

News of the partnership came as Dunelm reported record first-half profit of £140m, up 25% on a year ago. Sales rose 10%, with Wilkinson saying Dunelm was gaining market share over rivals.

The performance was in line with forecasts which were updated last month, but Dunelm surprised the market with its second special dividend in six months, at 37p per share.

Wilkinson said Dunelm benefited from “very strong winter sales” and the momentum continued in the weeks that followed.

Costs are rising and customer budgets are tight, but Wilkinson said value is in Dunelm’s “DNA”. 80% of Dunelm’s range is its own brand and the company has long-term relationships with its suppliers, which the CEO says has helped it protect against cost pressure.

If prices need to rise, Dunelm will raise them “cautiously” and “cautiously”.