TONY Brown, the chairman and owner of home office and workplace furniture manufacturer Bisley, has died at the age of 86.
Bisley’s website paid tribute to Mr Brown as “a remarkable person of great integrity, who built the hugely successful manufacturing businesses on a foundation of hard work and investment, coupled with enormous respect and care for the some 1,000 people he ultimately employed
“Hugely passionate about manufacturing, Tony was awarded an OBE in 1993, as well as a lifetime achievement award from the Furniture Makers’ Company in 2016, for his outstanding contribution to the British manufacturing industry.
“Tony was incredibly proud of Bisley’s international expansion, for which Bisley has received numerous accolades, including two Queen’s Awards for Export Achievement, several Design Guild Mark awards for its products, and being a recipient of the Manufacturing Guild Mark from The Furniture Makers’ Company since 2015.
“Most recently, Tony’s unwavering care for those he employed was evident in the recent establishment of the Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) in 2022, gifting 51% of Bisley to its employees to ensure its long-term success.”
Richard Costin, CEO of Bisley said: “We are all hugely saddened by Tony’s passing. It has been an honour to work with Tony and be entrusted with Bisley’s legacy.
“We look forward to commemorating his wonderful life of public service, sharing his great many achievements and our fond memories in the coming weeks and months.
“We pass on our condolences to Mr Brown’s friends and family. We will miss him greatly.”
The origins of Bisley go back to 1931. Tony Brown’s father, Freddy, a panel beater, started his one-man business repairing damaged cars in a garage in St John’s.
Ten years later the company moved to Bisley, building a 400 square metre manufacturing facility and undertaking various wartime defence contracts.
At the end of the war, Bisley resumed car repairs, but won a contract to make steel wastepaper bins for a London office-supply company, in the process mapping out its future.
In 1960, Tony joined Bisley, and in 1968 his father decided to retire and put the business up for sale. Tony bought the company in a deal which took 18 months to implement, taking ownership in 1970.
To meet expanding demand, in 1988 Bisley purchased a 17-acre site in Newport, and in 2012 consolidated its manufacturing on a single site after acquiring an extra 20,000 square metres.
Mr Brown was also notable as a benefactor to rugby union club Newport, where, through his business acumen and significant financial backing, he transformed the club’s fortunes after beginning his association in 1997.