What is Godfrey Syrett?
Godfrey Syrett is a manufacturer of furniture solutions for commercial, education and healthcare environments. Established in 1947, we are celebrating 70 years of manufacturing in the North East in 2017.
How has the business developed?
Godfrey Syrett started life as a supplier of metal tube tables and chairs to a newly-formed NHS. Seven decades later, the NHS remains one of our biggest customers but the company has also expanded into new markets such as schools, universities, accommodation fit-outs and offices, supplying fitted and loose furniture for refurbishment and new-build projects. Though we are still based on the original manufacturing site in Killingworth, Godfrey Syrett also has a manufacturing facility in Langley Moor, and a state-of-the-art storage and distribution centre in Belmont, Durham.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Godfrey Syrett provides a ‘full service’ offering to the market, by which I mean that we manage the full supply process. From initial engagement with the customer, we work with them on their design – depending on the size of the project, we can offer design and space planning support for customers, to ensure they are getting the most out of their space. We then manufacture the items, install all furniture – right down to individual items like a replacement task chair – and remove any packaging.
What market trends are you seeing at present?
The biggest market trends we’re currently seeing are around the changing face of the workspace. More and more, companies are embracing working away from the desk and creating a relaxed, informal environment for their employees. Integrated electrics in soft seating is a great option for these breakout areas. We’re also seeing a lot of demand for wooden frame furniture – adding a natural accent to the workspace creates an instantly welcoming and comfortable ambience.
What has been the company’s biggest challenge to date?
The biggest challenge – as I am sure many manufacturing firms can relate to – is keeping up with rapidly-changing market developments. Our business has grown organically over the years and we have had to make some big investments in our machinery to keep up with demand. For example, we’ve seen an explosion in the soft seating market, driven by the ‘agile working’ phenomenon. To ensure we could keep pace with the increasing demand, we’ve invested £250,000 in a state-of-the-art fabric cutting and optimisation solution, as part of a recent £1 million investment programme. This machinery has helped us to improve our efficiencies by 33 per cent and deal with customer orders more efficiently.
What do you see as your biggest leadership challenge going forward?
The company has ambitious targets for growth; targeting £50 million turnover by 2020. To achieve this, we need to make some upgrades to our admin systems – a process we have already started. While adopting new systems can be challenging, the bonus is that we have recently augmented an already talented and passionate workforce with individuals who have significant experience in embedding new processes and procedures and can help us make further improvements.