These are turbulent times at the English furniture manufacturer Godfrey Syrett. The company was acquired by an investment company halfway through this year and one of the production sites is being closed. In addition, Mark Dixon is no longer CEO at the company. His job has been taken over by Anner Eggink.
Ambitious growth plans
Godfrey Syrett was founded in 1947 by Ken Godfrey & Harry Syrett in Killingworth. Over the years, this production site increased more than 600%, and a second factory was opened in Langley Moor – Durham. In addition, all logistics and distribution activities were bundled in 2015 at a third location in Belmont, Durham.
In recent years, Godfrey Syrett has invested heavily in the renovation of the machine park and ambitious sales targets have been set. According to press releases on the Godfrey Syrett website, more than 4 million pounds were invested in modern machinery in the last 10 years. In addition, the company’s goal was to increase the turnover, which in 2015 was still around 25 million pounds, to 40 million pounds in 2020. With the arrival of the new CEO Mark Dixon early last year, the target was once again increased to 50 million pounds.
The turnover of the company therefore grew to almost 30 million pounds in 2017. The increasing turnover, however, concealed the financial problems that the furniture manufacturer had. Despite the good sales figures, Godfrey Syrett closed the previous year with a loss of £ 812,794, nearly twice as much as in 2016.
Godfrey Syrett acquired by owner Havelock Furniture
The struggling company was taken over halfway this year. A takeover that paid little attention to and was not widely discussed in the press. The investment company RCapital acquired the shares of the company through their subsidiairies Gold Round Ltd and Dolbia Ltd, and planned a large reorganization in order to make the company profitable again.
RCapital is an English investment company with a wide-spread network of subsidiaries and investments. One month before RCapital took over the shares of Godfrey Syrett, the company came to the fore with the acquisition of the Scottish Havelock furniture that was on the brink of bankruptcy. RCapital was involved in Havelock via Gold Round Ltd since 2016. With that takeover 320 jobs were provisionally secured in Kicaldy, Scotland.
Reorganization in full swing – work moved to Havelock Furniture
Since the beginning of this month, his CEO Mark Dixon and CFO Nicholas Pope are no longer employed by Godfrey Syrett and the new CEO Anner Eggink announced that the second factory in Langley Moor will close “in an attempt to secure the future of Godfrey Syrett“. According to one of the (outraged) employees, the work has been moved to Havelock furniture factory in Scotland: “Just two months ago bosses were saying it was a good thing, as they had deep pockets. Our order book is full until 2022. Then we found out that our work is going to Havelock in Scotland which is struggling. The way we’ve been treated is disgusting, we’ve worked hard to get a full order book but will be sacrificed for another site.It looks like they are putting men out of work in County Durham to save jobs in Scotland.The worst insult is that we have had to send raw materials on artics up to them to build and send back down, we could have had the jobs done in eight hours.”
Uncertain future for employees
With the close of the factory, the future of 60 employees at Godfrey Syrett has become very uncertain.
The losses at Godfrey Syrett, the takeover by an investment company, the closure of a factory and relocation of production to a sister company suggest that not only 2018 will enter the books as a turbulent year, but that many changes will also follow in 2019 for both Godfrey Syrett and Havelock.
Mark Dixon said he couldn’t comment on this article. Phil Emmerson of RCapital and Officer at Dolbia Ltd and Gold Round Ltd didn’t respond to several emails. Anner Eggink, CEO of Godfrey Syrett responded: “I can confirm that we have entered a consultation process with employees at the Langley Moor site but cannot comment on the detail for legal reasons.”
Images: (c) Godfrey Syrett