ONE of the country's biggest bed companies has announced that a new chairman is taking charge.

Accrington-based Bensons for Beds says that Ian Shepherd will be taking over from previous chairman Chris Howell from the end of May onwards.

This comes amid a busy time for the company, with Mr Shepherd having first joined Bensons for Beds in September 2020 shortly after a restructuring deal in June that saw £25 million invested in the business.

Mr 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.”

The investment last year was made by investment firm Alteri, which hopes that Mr Shepherd will be able to spearhead a period of growth for the company.

Alteri founder and CEO Gavin George 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.”

Since the end of lockdown, Bensons for Beds has re-opened its network of over 180 stores and says that it seen significant demand from customers.

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.

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.”