// Bensons for Beds announces new chairman as it emerged strongly from lockdown
// Ian Shepherd has taken on the chairman role of the bedding retailer from Chris Howell
// Since the end of lockdown, Bensons for Beds has seen significant demand from customers & double-digit like-for-like growth
Bensons for Beds has announced changes to its leadership as it steps up its transformation plans after emerging strongly from lockdown.
Non-executive director Ian Shepherd took on the chairman role of the bedding retailer from Chris Howell on May 28.
Shepherd, who previously served as the chief operating officer of Odeon and the chief executive of Game Group, joined Bensons for Beds’ board in September last year following a restructuring deal in the previous June that injected £25 million of new investment from Alteri to grow the business.
“I’d like to thank Chris for his leadership of the Bensons board through an extraordinary period,” Alteri chief executive Gavin George said.
“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, 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.”
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.”
Since the end of the recent lockdown, Bensons for Beds has re-opened its 180-plus store network and seen significant pent-up demand from customers with double-digit like-for-like growth over 2019 comparables.
While it had to close stores as a non-essential retailer, Bensons for Beds was able to keep its Huntingdon factory and distribution network working safely throughout the lockdown, building stock on key items in anticipation of reopening.
The retailer said this made it well-placed to meet increased demand as lockdown eases and offer customers shorter lead times than its competitors on key items.