Supporting a lasting legacy at the Fine Bedding Company: how leadership development and strategic people planning have strengthened the foundations for sustainable business growth.

In 1912, Harrison & Jones was established in Liverpool to supply beds and bedding to transatlantic liners. The business grew successfully over the next 60 years and in 1974 it became known as Trendsetter, which still operates as the parent company today, now trading under the Fine Bedding Company brand. The business provides bespoke bedding solutions for a range of industries and sectors, including retail own label, brand, hospitality and co-branded products.

As a fourth-generation British business powered by over 100 years of innovation, the business has a clear, united purpose: to create bedding that is better for people, better for businesses and better for the planet.

The challenge

With a team of 40 based in Manchester and over 100 in Estonia, Managing Director Claire Watkin recognised the need to bring in additional support. Although a Head of HR was in place, they were based in Estonia, and there were no UK-based HR functions. The business was in growth, but Claire knew she needed help to develop the Board and SLT and align them behind a unified business strategy. She was also looking to achieve B Corp accreditation.

In 2018, People Puzzles People Director John Tattersall came on board, but when the pandemic hit in 2020, work had to be paused. People Director Sarah Humphreys took up the role in March 2021.

Working with Claire and the SLT and Board, Sarah focused on the communication and dynamics between the two teams, ensuring their roles and responsibilities were appropriately defined, and that they could work cohesively toward agreed goals. To continue that development, a second People Puzzles People Director, Talent Development expert Robin Stirzaker-Phillips was brought in to deliver the programme, and Sarah focused on designing the strategic people plan and supporting the business towards its B Corp accreditation.

Key Achievements

  • Facilitating the board to work together and define the business strategy (Nov 21)
  • Identify and develop the SLT, bringing in additional support to deliver the development programme from L&D expert Robin Stirzaker-Phillips
  • Further developed working dynamics between SLT and Board, ensuring the board are concentrating on strategy and the SLT delivering operationally
  • B Corp accreditation achieved in 2021 scoring 84.3 Overall B Impact score, as part of the sustainability roadmap (
  • Developed in-house HR expertise to take on additional scope and responsibility

Impact and continuing progress

Work continues to define the next phases of development for the SLT, including how they will work with the Board ongoing, with a clear framework of meeting frequency, reporting expectations and accountability in place.

Sarah has played an instrumental role in developing and coaching the HR Manager, Jana, who has now stepped up to take on the full role of Group HR Manager. As a clear indication of the success of this development and Jana’s progress, she has now taken on writing the People Plan, representing significant scope and capability progress, coached and supported by Sarah ongoing.

Other areas of clear progress and impact include:

  • More cohesive productive SLT, with regular quarterly meetings in place
  • Sarah now a trusted adviser to Claire (MD) and Sales Director Glynis
  • Sarah is valued as a facilitator, support and Coach throughout the business
  • Robin’s expertise in L&D has been well received as he works to develop the SLT
  • Sustainability now runs through the core of everything within the business
  • High levels of employee engagement are evident

Sarah says, “The market is ever changing so our role is to support the business to be agile and responsive and to facilitate and support clear leadership.”

“Working with People Puzzles has enabled me and the team of Directors to step out of the day to day running of the business and concentrate on our future strategic direction. Sarah has helped us focus on how we develop our future leaders, develop cross team collaboration and enhance overall business performance, as well as supporting the achievement of B Corp status. She is a trusted advisor and sounding board to both me and my team.” – Claire Watkin, Managing Director, The Fine Bedding Company

Sarah’s role has evolved significantly from the early days of hands-on support, working two days per week with the business, to the advisory, coaching role she plays today. She says, “It gives me great satisfaction to have been part of helping this  business on its journey over the last 3+ years. From starting out with a very “hands on” remit, my role now is truly strategic, helping the team look forward and develop.”


If your business has reached a point in its growth where you would benefit from strategic people planning and the guidance of a trusted people expert, please give us a call on 0345 646 5201 or email [email protected] for a no-obligation chat about how a fractional People Director could support you.

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