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British Thornton appoints Rose & Bridge to support national growth

The UK’s leading educational furniture manufacturer, British Thornton, has strengthened its board through the appointment of two manufacturing specialists as non-executive directors.

Paul Rose, former Chief Executive of Yorkshire-based kitchen manufacturer Rixonway Kitchens, and Michael Bridge, former EMEA Sales and Marketing Director at international packaging business, Sonoco, have been appointed to British Thornton’s board as non-executive directors.

Rose arrives with thirty years of manufacturing experience and built Yorkshire business Rixonway into the UK’s leading supplier of assembled kitchens to the social housing sector. During his tenure at Rixonway the business experienced a tenfold rise in turnover in 22 years, from £4m to £40m. He also oversaw the development of a new 175,000 sq ft factory and the eventual £34m sale of the business to Swedish kitchen manufacturer Nobia UK in 2014.

Meanwhile, Bridge spent 15 years as National Account Manager at Lyons Maid, after which he was appointed by Sara Lee Bakery to build a retail business alongside its food service division. From virtually nothing, this grew to make a profit of £45 million per annum. He then spent 20 years as EMEA Sales and Marketing Director at $5 billion US corporation, Sonoco, where he held P&L responsibility and led a European acquisition. He currently acts as Entrepreneur in Residence with Connect Yorkshire, where he devotes time to helping Yorkshire businesses grow. At British Thornton, Bridge will take responsibility for Sales and Purchasing, along with developing a value leadership culture within the business.

The non-executive directors will work in an advisory capacity on the board, in an effort to contribute to, and further stimulate, British Thornton’s impressive growth. This has included the acquisition of fellow Yorkshire company Claughtons and Scotland-based EME Furniture to create a £30m group.

Gerard Toplass, Chief Executive of British Thornton, said:

Both Paul and Michael bring a wealth of experience and expertise which will be invaluable as we seek to grow the business even further. Their career achievements have been nothing short of stellar and their presence on the board will give us real impetus to drive the business forward and achieve great things.

In addition to the non-executive director appointments, British Thornton has promoted three employees to the board of directors. Jonathan Clark has been made Product Design Director, after initially joining the company in 2007 as a CAD designer, Mike Little has been promoted to Group Manufacturing and Production Director, and Emma Dolman has been appointed as Space Planning Director, following four years in senior design roles at British Thornton subsidiary Claughtons.

On the promotions of Clark, Little and Dolman, Toplass said:

Their fantastic work over the last few years has been a major contributory factor to how the company has grown and they have been rightly rewarded for their dedication and passion.

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