Julie Kenny seals Sheffield conveyor firm’s turnaround

Conveyors made by Sheffield firm Robson Handling Technology at E.ON's biomass fuelled power station at Lockerbie
Conveyors made by Sheffield firm Robson Handling Technology at E.ON's biomass fuelled power station at Lockerbie
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A fourth generation Sheffield conveyor belt company is looking to a bright future with a prestigious new chairwoman, after three years of losses.

Julie Kenny CBE, who built and sold Rotherham security manufacturer Pyronix, has been appointed at Robson Handling Technology, which employs 160.

Julie Kenny CBE

Julie Kenny CBE

It comes after three years of losses peaking at £2.2million following the shock death of chairman Jim Robson in 2013. It’s most recent accounts, for the year ended June 2016, show the group spent £661,00 on ‘exceptional turnaround costs’ including specialist advisors, pushing losses to £943,000.

Former Master Cutler Bill Speirs led an interim management team during the period.

He has now left and Ms Kenny has stepped up as a permanent, non-executive chairman. She joined as a director in January.

She said: “Robson is grateful for the contribution made by Bill and thanks him.

“It has done well in the last year and will continue to do well. There’s a forward plan and I’m looking forward to working there. Manufacturing is my first love.

“It was struggling but the interim team were appointed to lead it to a new position and that’s where we are now.

“The firm is over the devastating loss of its leader, Jim Robson. All companies, but especially family firms, go through a period of bereavement in such circumstances. But it’s being handed over to me in a strong position.”

Robson changed its name from Geo. Robson & Co last year when it celebrated 110 years in business.

It makes conveyor belts for airports, mines, warehouses and factories.

Ms Kenny, aged 59, is also chair of Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, is a Rotherham intervention commissioner and LEP board member.

Jeff Hudson, CEO of Robson, welcomed Julie, stating: “To attract someone of Julie’s calibre is testament to the strength and potential of Robson in its markets. With a CBE to her name, along with being the PWC private businesswoman of the Year 2014 Julie will be a great asset to Robson, continuing to drive the business forward.”