Dunelm leapfrogs John Lewis to become UK's biggest homewares retailer
Dunelm has leapfrogged John Lewis to become the UK's biggest seller of items for the home.
It marks a major milestone for the Syston business, which started on Leicester Market 33 years ago.
The group knocked John Lewis off the top spot – which it had held for 10 years – after seeing annual sales rise by more than 10 per cent.
Experts put Dunelm's success down to its ability to attract a wide range of customers.
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Chief executive Nick Wharton said: "It's a milestone for the business and it's pleasing, but it won't distract us from continuing to develop the business."
Retail data specialist Verdict said Dunelm now had 6.9 per cent of the £10.7 billion-a-year UK homeware market, compared with the 6.8 per cent slice held by department store chain John Lewis.
This time last year, Dunelm was in second place with 5.9 per cent, while John Lewis was on 6.2 per cent.
Homeware includes bedding, furniture, kitchenware and lighting.
Professor Jim Saker, associate dean at Loughborough Business School, which is part of Loughborough University, said: "This is a fantastic achievement.
"What makes it a success is its ability to appeal to a wide range of different people, from students to pensioners.
"It offers good value, but it is not seen as down-market and it's not unacceptable for the middle class to be seen there."
Martin Traynor, chief executive of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is excellent news for a very successful company founded in Leicestershire."
The business was set up on Leicester Market in 1979 by former Woolworths manager Bill Adderley and his wife Jean. They initially sold curtains which had been rejected by Marks & Spencer.
Today, Dunelm is valued at £1.3 billion, and has 127 stores, 18 of which it has opened over the past 14 months.
It employs 7,000 people, including about 330 people in Leicestershire.
In the year to the end of June, the company made a profit of £96.25 million on sales of £603.73 million.
Mr Adderley and his family are Leicestershire's richest people. Their combined wealth totalled £710 million, according to the most recent Sunday Times Rich List.
The group yesterday said it had further reinforced its leading position after reporting sales had risen by 13.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to September 29.
John Lewis was not available to comment.