Bensons for Beds appoints new chairman

Employment & Skills | North West | Retail

Ian Shepherd

Bensons for Beds, today announced leadership changes as it stepped up its transformation plans and emerged strongly from lockdown.

Non-executive director Ian Shepherd took on the chairmanship of the business from Chris Howell on Friday 28 May.

Ian has previously served as the chief operating officer of Odeon and the CEO of Game Group. He has also held senior commercial and retail leadership roles for world-leading brands including Vodafone and Sky Interactive.

Ian joined Bensons’ board in September 2020 following a restructuring deal in June 2020 that injected £25m of new investment from Alteri to grow the business.

Gavin George, Founder and CEO of Alteri Investors said: “I’d like to thank Chris for his leadership of the Bensons board through an extraordinary period. His leadership has enabled Bensons to emerge from lockdown strongly and well placed to continue with our planned transformation programme.

“While Ian’s no stranger, I’m looking forward to working more closely with him as he takes on the chairman role as we continue supporting Bensons’ development.”

On stepping down as chairman, Chris Howell said: “It’s an understatement to say these have been some of the most challenging times of my professional career, but working alongside my board colleagues, Mark Jackson and his leadership team, we’ve worked hard to protect the business and ensure it’s well placed to re-emerge from lockdown strongly.

“Having steered the business for the past 20 months through this period, the foundations are now in place for Bensons to successfully move forward. So, the time is right for me to move on and focus on my other commitments.

“I’d like to thank Alteri, the executive leadership team and the whole Bensons’ family for the support they’ve given me over the past two years.”

Incoming chairman Ian Shepherd said: “Since joining the Bensons board last year, I’ve seen the potential this business has – great people, a strong brand and a British manufacturing capability that provides a distinctive customer proposition.

“And the strong trading we’ve seen since the end of lockdown has underscored how exciting that potential really is. I look forward to working with Alteri and guiding the leadership team as we realise that potential.”

Since the end of lockdown, Bensons has re-opened its 180-plus store network and seen significant pent-up demand from customers with strong, double-digit like-for-like growth over 2019 comparables.

While it had to close stores as a non-essential retailer, Bensons was able to keep its Huntingdon factory and distribution network working safely throughout the lockdown, building stock on key items in anticipation of re-opening.

That’s why it’s now well-placed to meet increased demand as lockdown eases and offer customers shorter lead times than its competitors on key items.

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