WestPoint Home LLC intends to become a true global leader in textiles – we investigate how

In the year since we last spoke, WestPoint Home LLC (WestPoint) has tightened its global strategy to better align the business with the post-pandemic world. New brands and partnerships, new sites and targeted sales locations, new digital and hospitality spaces – the leading producer and distributor of textiles and fabrics for the home and hospitality industry has not taken its foot off the gas.
But it has also made moves to trim the fat, so to speak, focusing on a more concentrated portfolio of products and brands to drive overall company growth. Coupled together, these factors continue to give the firm an edge in a busy, hyper-competitive marketplace.
Likewise, this albeit brief period has brought about significant change for Steve Burns. When we last featured WestPoint, Steve was the 206-year-old company’s Chief Operating Officer; however, catching up now, he speaks to us as Group CEO.
He’s only been in the role for about eight weeks, he informs us, but has spent the last five-and-a-half years at WestPoint and has over three decades’ experience in manufacturing and supply chain leadership. In short, Steve’s up to the challenge.
In fact, it’s that very challenge he finds exciting. “My personal approach to leading a company is rather simple: pick the things that can really make a difference, find an opportunity, and then attack,” he begins. “I have a lot of experience implementing leadership and Lean Six Sigma as not just a manufacturing tool, but also as a business and management device.”

Unified vision

As Steve goes on to explain, that skillset has already paid dividends, with the company experiencing numerous successes as well as a transformation of its factory complex in Bahrain, which will now be leveraged as part of the brand’s tighter, more functional global business strategy.
“Being in this new role, and working alongside Leslie Meier, our US Chief Commercial Officer, will no doubt be fruitful,” he goes on. “Personally, I relish the opportunity of finding untapped potential and unlocking it. Those untapped resources can be both internal and external – matching them together, and laser-focusing on them as one organization – one team – is providing some key positive impacts for the business.
“By aligning ourselves in that way, creating a strong leadership team with a unified vision, really energizes both myself and, I think, the wider company as a whole,” Steve says. “All you need to do is then make sure you direct all your resources into the target area and make change happen. It is an incredibly powerful model, and it is a pleasure experiencing the fruit of our shared labors.

“There is so much potential here, and sometimes – to be frank – the right ideas and approaches are there, but they are buried by a whole bunch of noise. You hear this all the time, but de-selecting the noise, and getting it out the way, is essential. In doing so, you can say: ‘This is an interesting project, and we are going to put all our energy into it,’ and to others: ‘That’s great, but we are going to put it on pause for a while and pick it up another time.’
“Until then, you can do what you need to do really well. That philosophy might sound simple, however many organizations fall short – and that is where they are going wrong.”
Instead of doing lots with average intent, begetting average results, Steve has dedicated himself to doing less – but bigger and better. “One example of that,” he informs us, “is our allergen-aware program in the US, which we are running with Robin Wilson and Clean Design Home® x Martex®. Bringing that famous personality on board has been brilliant, and it allows us to tap into available but as yet untapped white space.
“That’s just one example, though,” he continues. “There are plenty more, and they all serve the purpose of ploughing narrow and deep; rather than, say, wide and shallow. This is the route we are taking with all our business. A slightly more cautious approach seems prudent, especially given the uncertainty that is still in the global market. We don’t want lots of things in the pan simmering; instead, we are going to pick the best few things and go big with them.”
The acquisition of Vision Linens, a leading textiles manufacturer and distributor based in the UK and winner of the Exporter of the Year award at the 2018 Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, in 2019 is one prominent example of WestPoint’s narrow-and-deep strategy.

Global leader

Steve talks us through the integration of the UK-based company into the wider WestPoint business: “Given everything that’s happened between 2019 and today – from the pandemic to ongoing supply chain disruptions – I think the acquisition has gone quite well. Admittedly, complete integration has probably been delayed, but that is a goal for us moving into the first quarter of 2023.
“The main challenge with any acquisition is maintaining the identity of the company you are bringing on board,” he goes on. “You never want to lose the character or nimbleness of those companies you are integrating. There is always the potential of slowing the business down through the transition. In light of that fact, we picked what worked well and embraced that in the merging of Vision Linens and WestPoint.”
A benefit of joining a world leader like WestPoint is the sudden exposure to a wide bank of global resources and distribution opportunities. For instance, once part of the WestPoint network, Vision Linens gained access to sourcing options, sales and manufacturing expertise in Pakistan and India. By opening up a gateway to opportunity via the acquisition, Vision Linens seeks to build itself into a bigger, better, more global brand.
As our conversation has made clear, WestPoint is pointing in one direction: forward. It’s all about an exciting, busy, and profitable future – both for the group and its subsidiaries. Talking us through that future is Steve.
“This year is exciting because we will see our new allergen-aware product line – Clean Design Home ® by Martex® – ship globally,” he concludes. “Last year, it did over seven figures at Macy’s, and we expect it to do even better with other retailers. That will be a key driver for us.
“Thinking more generally, we have great capabilities. As such, I want this company to become a true global leader in textiles. Right now, we are operating in all the key textile countries and markets, and now in the UK with Vision Linens. In five years, then, we should be double – or even triple – the size we are now, and I’m looking forward to updating you on our progress then.”