27 May 2024, 01:30
By Furniture News Jul 28, 2016

Anthony Joyce, Steinhoff UK Manufacturing

Anthony Joyce is the CEO of Steinhoff UK Manufacturing, which encompasses the local beds and upholstery manufacturing and sourcing divisions of Steinhoff International. As one of the UK’s leading bed manufacturers, Steinhoff is a custodian of the some of the best-known industry brands – Relyon, Dunlopillo, Myers, Slumberland and Staples – as well as producing and sourcing upholstery in Bridgend, and managing its Pritex acoustic solution and foam conversion business in Wellington.

How did you enter the trade?
I started work in my father’s business, Gateway Systems, after leaving college. Gateway imported machinery, and produced and reconditioned machines for the mattress industry.

Who was your inspiration?
I have been very lucky in my working life as I have worked with many inspirational people – however, two stand out. My father was my first mentor, and taught me to work hard and play hard. I think it’s a bonus when you have an opportunity to work with a family member, and have a much closer relationship than you would under normal circumstances.

My second mentor was Tom Wells. He helped me develop from running a small family business to working for an American multinational. He actively worked to grow and develop talent and played a hand in the careers of many of the current senior executives at Leggett & Platt (L&P).

What was your career high point?
So far, I would say convincing Leggett & Platt to invest £25m in a new manufacturing facility in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As with all large investments, many options are considered, and it took time to get the go-ahead. Creating over 200 jobs on the site of the old Grimethorpe colliery was something I am proud of.

… and low point?
I don’t really have a low point – I am a half-full rather than a half-empty type of person.

… and the turning point?
Joining Steinhoff in 2013. I had, until then, never been for a job interview or changed company. L&P acquired my family business in 1996, and I continued working for them up to the end of 2012, when I handed in my notice. It was a big move for me, and I have never looked back.

Please describe a typical working day
I don’t have a typical working day. My office is in Cheltenham, and we have three main manufacturing facilities in the UK – Wellington, Huntingdon and Bridgend. We have bedding, automotive and upholstery businesses spread across these sites, and I spend most of my working days at one of them.

In addition, I am travelling to Europe regularly on M&A [mergers and acquisitions] work, looking to expand Steinhoff manufacturing where I can. I set my alarm for 6am during the week, and love the fact that I can listen to the Radio 4 Today programme on my iPhone wherever I am. 

If you had to start over, you’d probably pursue which career?
I can’t imagine working in any other industry. I grew up in the bedding industry, it’s all I know. It’s not to big, but it’s big enough. Generally, the people are nice and friendly, and the good ones tend to stick around – I have seen many come in with big reputations and high expectations, but leave generally disappointed in their achievements.

What date do you most look forward to the business calendar?
Steinhoff have an annual world conference where a group of around 80 come together and spend a weekend reviewing the last 12 months and planning the future. It was held in Stellenbosch, South Africa, this year, and is a lot of fun.

I also enjoy trade shows, especially the NBF Bed Show in Telford, where this year we introduced the new Myer’s range and launched a completely new Slumberland product range.

What’s the most important issue affecting your business right now?
We are investing heavily in new and upgraded buildings on our Wellington and Huntingdon sites. These investments are designed to take our business to the next level of output and customer service. It’s always a challenge getting long-term infrastructure investment right, so I am focused on getting the best value and creating long-term growth in these businesses.

What company do you most look up to?
I am a big fan of Elon Musk – the way he has developed and brought Tesla Motors to the mainstream, while the major auto manufacturers were in denial about electric cars, is amazing. He is working on a high-speed transportation system called Hyperloop – I have no idea if it will work, but he does. He just doesn’t understand the concept of “you can’t do that”.

What would you most like to change about yourself?
This is probably a question best answered by my family and work colleagues. I am content that I have a wonderful family and a great business with great people to work with, so I will stay as I am.

What do you most enjoy about working in the trade?
It’s always the people. The fact there are still so many family businesses operating means we have a continuity. I am guessing that my family has been involved in the industry for about 65 years, and there are plenty of family businesses that have been around for many more generations. I hope that it will continue.

Leave us with an industry anecdote please!
I have plenty, but rather than share one in print, I would rather say where most of the great stories took place. The NBF overseas tours are a thing of legend! They were mostly to the USA, to the ISPA show. A group of UK mattress manufacturers and suppliers, together, on a five-day trip.

The show took place every other year, and always in a different city. This was usually combined with a tour of a few American mattress manufacturing plants. The trips were epic, and were discontinued some years ago – probably for health and safety reasons!

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