Obituary – John Hancock, MBE DL

The National Bed Federation (NBF) has announced the sad death of one of the bed industry’s greats and NBF Past President (1998-2000), John Hancock, MBE.

John enjoyed a 40-year career in the furniture industry, with Englender, then Silentnight-owned Buoyant and finally, for the last 14 years as Managing Director of Sealy United Kingdom, also part of the Silentnight group, before retiring in 2000.

He served on the NBF Council for many years, chairing its Marketing Committee from 1993 to 1995, during which time he led the committee in successfully persuading both retailers and manufacturers to fund The Sleep Council, which was launched in 1995 to promote the importance of a good bed to getting a good night’s sleep and contributed to reducing the replacement cycle of mattresses from around 17 years to 10.

John was joint chair of The Sleep Council until 1998 when he was elected President of the NBF.

Jessica Alexander, (outgoing) executive director of the NBF said: “John was admired and respected throughout the industry. Only someone like John could have persuaded the industry to get together and launch the Sleep Council initiative, which had such a positive impact. Personally, without John’s support and encouragement, I would not have had the  opportunities or the courage to achieve all I have done in my own career. He was and always will be one of my heroes.”

John was also very active in promoting business in his adopted home county of Cumbria, where he and his wife Barbara moved in 1986. He was a founder member of the West Cumbria Development Agency, becoming its Vice Chairman and then Chairman, before relinquishing the role to set up and chair the Cumbria Marketing Initiative. He also chaired the Maryport Heritage Trust and sat on the North-West Industrial Development Board.

In 1993 he was named Cumbrian Businessman of the Year and in 1994 was awarded an MBE for services to industry.

Since his retirement, John remained active in the industry as a consultant, while also indulging in his passion for golf both here in the UK and a second home in Florida. As recently as 2019, he helped to broker the purchase of his former company Sealy by Sealy Australia and Tempur Sealy. In 2020, he was a judge for the NBF’s Covid Community Champions Award. He also held a number of non-executive director’s roles with Cumbrian based businesses.

John is survived by his beloved wife Barbara, his son Alan and three grandchildren.

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