Business Brain Q&A – Mark Dixon

CEO & Chairman of Godfrey Syrett, Mark Dixon, discusses the short and long term plans for the business

How do you describe your business to others?

Godfrey Syrett is a design-led manufacturer of furniture solutions, supplying to a wide range of sectors including corporate, healthcare, education and accommodation.

When did you establish the business and how has it changed/developed in this time?

Godfrey Syrett was actually established back in 1947 as a supplier of simple, metal tables and chairs to the NHS. In the 70 years since Ken Godfrey and Harry Syrett established the business; it has grown and changed immensely – although we are proud to say that the NHS remains one of our most important customers. We now work with businesses across the public and private sector – we are a well-established manufacturer of education furniture, and have recently branched into the accommodation sector (PRS, universities and defence) which is a significant and growing market for us.

What impact is it making in the North East?

We have three sites across the North East – our Head Office and upholstery facility in Killingworth, Newcastle; a second manufacturing site focused on board panel products in Durham; and our main storage and distribution hub in Belmont, Durham. The majority of our 220 staff are based within the Newcastle or Durham areas.

What is your business’s USP?

We pride ourselves on our passion and willingness to go the extra mile for our customers. We use our extensive experience to understand their needs, and help them to make informed decisions on the products that will best suit those requirements.

What’s the biggest challenge your business is facing? How will it overcome this?

As I am sure any manufacturing company could attest to, one of the biggest challenges for us is managing the organic growth of the business. We have grown quickly in some areas – soft seating, for example – and this has necessitated investment in digital manufacturing technology to be able to keep up with demand.

Over the past 2 years, we have invested close to £1.5 million in digital manufacturing technology, and this will remain a key part of our future plans and developments. We’re currently working with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) as they assess and evaluate our production facilities. This will give us a clear understanding of the changes and improvements we can make to streamline our processes and improve efficiencies, ultimately creating an even better product and service offer for our customers.

What are the company’s aims/objectives this year? Are you on target to achieve these?

Following a major management restructuring exercise, we have revitalised our strategy and plans. We are on target with all of our innovative projects, and have set the foundation for an ambitious growth target.

What are the plans longer term?

Godfrey Syrett is a company with big ambitions – we have recently upped our short-term turnover target to £50million by 2020. Past that, we are planning our break into the export market, both within Europe and further afield.  I would like the Godfrey Syrett brand to become synonymous with high-quality British design backed by the latest digital technology investments.

Godfrey Syrett