The household textiles market in the United Kingdom is comprised of four major sectors: bed linen, filled products, bathroom textiles and table linen. In 2006, these four sectors combined were worth just under 1.3 billion, having experienced growth of 2% on the previous year. Over the last two years, the market has seen lower growth levels than in the past to reach a market value of 1,266m in 2006.

The market is experiencing difficult trading conditions at present, with high levels of competition and high volume sales at the lower end of the market. Since 2002, the market has seen lower growth levels of 2-4% although has benefited from the current focus on interior design, redecoration and trends in the fashion market. Indications for 2007 reveal anticipated growth of 3% for the year, with longer-term forecasts currently indicating that the market will reach just over 1.4 billion by 2010.

Since many household textiles products are purchased following a house move, changes in the housing market will impact on the performance of this sector. Any decline in consumer confidence will also adversely affect the market since some products in this sector are not perceived as necessities. Interest rate rises seen in 2005 and 2006, although low, may begin to adversely affect the housing market and consumer confidence, although in 2006 house prices have continued to show signs of growth, with steady growth in output for housing completions.

The past 2-3 years have seen little change in the product mix for household textiles with bed linen continuing to dominate the market with a 43% share in value terms. This is followed by filled products and bathroom textiles, each with a share of between 23-31%, and table linen remaining a very small sector of the market.

The bed linen sector was estimated to be worth 540 million in 2006 and is forecast to reach 568 million in 2007. The sector is comprised of duvet covers, sheets, pillowcases, bedspreads and blanket, with duvet covers dominating the market with a 47% value share. High volume growth at the lower end of the market has become a feature of the market in the last 2-3 years, as has the importance of fashion trends in this sector. The bed linen sector is benefiting from a measure of trading up to better quality, higher priced items in the middle and upper market sectors, although the lowest sectors of the market are still characterised by very low prices.

Filled products are the second largest sector of the household textiles market with an estimated value of just over 390 million in 2006. The market has benefited from the growing cushions market and an element of trading up in the duvet market, thereby gaining share within the total household textiles market. The market for filled products has seen an increase in demand for quality products, although the lower end of the market has seen a trend towards low priced, heavily discounted products, which has undermined value growth. The garden furniture market remains a key end user of cushion products with the trend for wooden furniture helping to boost the cushion market. The pillows market continues to show a steady level of growth underpinned by a relatively short replacement cycle in the domestic market. In 2007, the filled products market is forecast to show moderate growth reaching 402m.

The bathroom textiles sector is comprised of bathroom towels, tea towels and bath & pedestal mat sets and is worth approximately 290 million in 2006, a nominal increase on the previous year. Towels have continued to dominate the sector accounting for 75% value share. The growth in the towels market in recent years has been due to increased replacement of existing products, and additional purchases for use in the increasing number of domestic cloakrooms and en-suite installations. Fashion trends have also gained influence in recent years and the market has seen an increase in the incorporation of quality fibres, e.g. modal and silk, adding value to the market. Pedestal and bath mats sets, accounting for 18% of the market, have benefited from an upward trend to better quality, higher value products, e.g. chenille twist mats, but this sector suffers historically from an old-fashioned image and perception as a low value product. Tea towels remain a very small part of the bathroom textiles sector accounting for 20m in 2006. This sector has been affected by the move to dishwashers in both the domestic and commercial sectors, with the availability of some very low priced imports also subduing any significant value growth. Current indications for the bathroom textile sector are for 1-3% annual value growth in the short-medium term to reach approximately 310 million by 2010.


Table linen is the smallest sector in the household textiles market and is dominated by the contract sector, with hotels and restaurants important end-use sectors. The domestic market has been adversely affected by the move away from formal dining, but the continued focus on the garden as an area for outside entertainment and dining has seen the emergence of a significant niche for the table linen sector. Within the domestic sector, the last 2-3 years have seen some growth in table runners and an increase in the quality of table linen but the sector remains vulnerable to wipe-clean and disposable substitutes. The market was valued at 43m in 2006, is expected to remain fairly static during 2007-2008 and is forecast to reach 45 million by 2010.

International trade has long been a significant feature of the household textiles market, and import penetration has increased in recent years. In 2005, the household textiles market experienced a trade deficit of 516 million with imports estimated to account for approximately 50% of the total market. The high value of Sterling has helped to contribute to the growth of imports into the UK and also contributed to the decline in exports over the last 7-8 years. The market has seen a continuing trend by manufacturers and retailers to relocate production overseas, as well as sourcing raw materials and products in low cost countries, e.g. China and India.

In terms of suppliers, the household textile market has become more fragmented in recent years with the divestment of some textile divisions by conglomerates such as Coats and Courtaulds. The wide range of products within the household textile market means that the majority of suppliers only have small overall market shares. Leading suppliers in the bed linen sector include Dorma, Vanguard Textiles and Arthur Sanderson, whilst John Cotton, Fogarty and Delbanco Meyer are key suppliers of filled products. Leading towel suppliers include Christy and Stott & Smith, with Grandoption, Liddel and Wedgwood supplying table linen. Suppliers of blankets have come under increasing pressure in recent years as the market has declined, following the widespread adoption of duvets. Leading suppliers include AW Hainsworth, James Walker and Whitley Willows, with the latter two also being leading suppliers of pedestal and bath mats.

Distribution of household textiles is very widespread but is dominated by department stores, mail order, independents and specialists. Methods of displaying furniture and furnishing accessories have seen some improvement in recent years and retailers have increasingly used room sets to display related products. By encouraging consumers to invest in the whole design scheme rather than individual products, retailers hope to stimulate additional purchases. Purchasing household textiles through outlets such as grocery and DIY multiples has seen an increase during the last few years. Supermarkets, in particular, have become more committed to non-food sales in the last 4-5 years. Asda, for example, have opened a number of Living Stores in the last 2-3 years specialising in home ranges as well as clothing, jewellery, fashion accessories and home entertainment

About the Author:

Mark Waddy

AKTRIN Textile Information Center and AMA Research Web: Household Textile Market in the United Kingdom

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