In The News
What Is Silentnight
Barnoldswick, United Kingdom
The brand is Silentnight, and the company name is Silentnight Group.
The company was founded on 11 July 1946 by Tom Clarke. It was founded as Clarke's Mattresses Limited in Skipton with the gratuity paid to Tom after he was demobbed from the Royal Navy. The name was changed to Silentnight Limited in 1951 at the suggestion of Tom's wife, Joan. Clarke later said that the name change was a brainwave that brought millions into the company.
Barnoldswick industrial building during Silentnight strike – June 1986 During the 1980s, and again in the 2000s and the 2010s, the company was the United Kingdom's largest bed manufacturer. For 18 months between 1985 and 1987, the company had a drawn-out strike which is the longest strike action against one company in Britain, which took place over 616 days.
Workers went out on strike from two of the Silentnight factories at the time, Barnoldswick and Sutton-in-Craven due to an increased demand by management upon production scales. The union also claimed that an agreement had been reached whereby the workforce would not press for a pay rise provided the company did not enforce any redundancies. Eight weeks later, 52 members of staff were made redundant.
As a result of the strike, 346 workers were sacked by the company. The strike gained much support from the miners and the Labour Party. Whilst the strike was discussed at length in Parliament and it was noted for its generally passive nature, there were incidents of rock throwing and one notable event when the strikers' caravan was firebombed. The chief executive at the time was Tom Clarke, the company's founder, who was a member of the Conservative Party and friend of Margaret Thatcher, who gave him the nickname of Mr Wonderful. This led to the strikers erecting boards at the picket line which read "Mr Wonderful's scabs cross here".
Following a loss of confidence stock market the Clarke family bought out smaller shareholders & took the company private in 2003, but the company collapsed under the weight of its pension commitments and went into administration before its rescue by HIG Europe in 2011. Much of the existing management was replaced in 2011, including the Clarke family.
 Dive Magazine; Silentnight Announces Partnership With the UK's Marine Conservation Society, June 07, 2018.