Multi-million pound deal saves 250 jobs at Huntingdon factory

Managing Director of Steinhoff UK Manufacturing Andy Murdoch,the new owner of Myer's, Huntingdon wi

Managing Director of Steinhoff UK Manufacturing Andy Murdoch,the new owner of Myer's, Huntingdon with operator Darius Liutkevicius - Credit: Archant

MORE than 250 jobs have been saved and 50 more could be created after bed manufacturer Myer’s was bought in a multi-million pound deal by furniture giant Steinhoff International.

The Huntingdon factory was previously part of the Hilding Anders empire, a Scandanavian firm whose brands included Slumberland.

But increasing costs and dwindling profits meant it went into administration earlier this year.

The multi-million pound sale, which included the Windover Road plant and the Myer’s, Slumberland, Staples and Dunlopillo brands, was agreed on Tuesday last week for an undisclosed sum.

Steinhoff UK’s managing director Andy Murdoch, who said some work would be moved from abroad back to the town, said: “Employees here have been concerned for some time. They knew the business had not been performing well.

“Whenever that’s the case, uncertainty creeps in and they knew something was going to happen and feared the worst.

“When I spoke to the workforce to say Steinhoff had taken it over and explained our intentions with regard to keeping full employment here, and plans to grow and invest in the business there was a lot of cheering and clapping.

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“There had clearly been a lot of worry, so there was a lot of relief.”

Mr Murdoch said he told staff the hard work started now in terms of turning the business around, particularly with a challenging economic climate.

“I have found that certain aspects of the business are looking very tired, as you would expect from a business which has been struggling for a number of years,” he said.

“There has been under-investment here for several years. There’s also been out-sourcing of manufacturing to low-cost countries, such as Croatia, and we are expecting to address that and bring more manufacturing back into this plant.

“We’ve bought four iconic bed brands. We think we can do a lot more with those brands to promote them.”

Mr Murdoch estimated he would need to employ up to 50 extra people at Huntingdon in the next 12 months.

“We will look to bring back some of the skills that have been lost from the factory in sewing, quilting and upholstering.

“We will also be investing in machinery.”

Mr Murdoch said the priority would be to build confidence with customers and suppliers but also to incorporate selling beds made in Huntingdon at Benson for Beds, a Steinhoff company.

He said: “We’re here for the long haul. We’ve got to build the brands up and get them back to their former glory.

“I want to look back in 18 months to two years’ time and see a much invigorated business.”