Smiths Group

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Smiths Group plc
Public limited company
Traded as LSESMIN
Industry Engineering
Founded 1831 (London)
Founder Samuel Smith
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Area served
Key people
Donald Brydon (Chairman)
Philip Bowman (CEO)
Products Detection sensors
Mechanical seals (wet seals and dry gas seals)
Hydrodynamic bearings
Filtration systems
Medical devices
Electronic components
Heating and ducting systems
Revenue £2,951.6 million (2014)[1]
£377.6 million (2014)[1]
£234.7 million (2014)[1]
Number of employees
23,000 (2014)[2]
Subsidiaries John Crane Inc.
Slogan Bringing technology to life

Smiths Group plc (LSESMIN) is a British multinational diversified engineering company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It has operations in over 50 countries and employs around 23,550 staff.

Smiths Group has five divisions. Smiths Detection is the world's largest manufacturer of sensors for the detection of explosives, weapons, chemical agents, biohazards, narcotics and contraband.[3][4] John Crane is a major manufacturer of seals and associated products for the process industries.[4] Smiths Medical is a major supplier of medical devices and equipment.[4] Smiths Interconnect is a major manufacturer of electronic and radio frequency components.[4] Flex-Tek is a major supplier of components to heat and move fluids and gases.[4]

Smiths Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


The company was founded by Samuel Smith in London in 1851 as a clock and watch business.[5] From 1915 Smiths had a factory at Cricklewood, north London and later moved their headquarters there.[6]

First half of 20th century[edit]


At the start of the 20th century, the age of the early automobiles, the company produced the first British odometer ("mileometer") and speedometer.[5] In the 1930s Smiths agreed a trading deal with Lucas whereby the two would not compete in certain areas and Lucas took on part of Smiths non-instrumentation assets. Smiths became the dominant supplier of instruments to British motorcar and motorcycle firms.

These instruments carried a distinctive logo, the word "SMITHS" centred above the middle of the dial and silk screened onto it in a unique house font familiar to generations of drivers.[7]

The car was profligate in the extreme and ... a constant target of vandalism in the city. Jessica refused to give up on it though and was always enchanted anew as she slid across the soft red leather, placing her hands on the large steering wheel and gazing at the wonderful old Smiths speedometer with its curiously distinctive dial.

—Francis Kemble, [8]

Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. Ltd.[edit]

In 1946, Smiths and the Ingersoll Watch Company founded the Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. Ltd., which produced watches in Wales. This became one of the largest producers of watches in Europe before closing in 1980.[9]

Second half of 20th century[edit]

Aviation, marine and industrial[edit]

Separate Smiths Aviation and Smiths Marine divisions were set up in 1958.[5] In 1960, an Industrial division was formed whose main operations were industrial instrumentation.[5] With increasing diversification and international operations the name Smiths Industries Ltd. was adopted in 1965.

Caerbont Automotive Instruments[edit]

Clocks, watches, and automotive instruments eventually ceased to be significant markets for Smiths,[5] and by the 1980s, the automotive instrument division had been sold,[5] first to Lucas, and eventually to the factory employees. The new company, Caerbont Automotive Instruments, continues to produce classic Smiths-branded instruments with the blessing of Smiths Group plc.[10]

21st century[edit]

Mergers, divestments and acquisitions[edit]

The company's name was changed to Smiths Group plc on 30 November 2000[11] and on 4 December, Smiths completed a merger with TI Group. TI had major interests in aerospace, industrial seals and automotive parts.[12] However Smiths divested TI Automotive shortly after the merger.[13]

In 2007 GE Aviation, a division of General Electric, acquired Smith's aerospace subsidiary, Smiths Aerospace, for US$4.8 billion.[14]

In September 2011 Smiths Group acquired the United States-based power technology company Power Holdings Inc. for £145 million.[15]


Following a company-wide restructuring programme in mid 2008, the Company is organised into five separate divisions, namely:

Smiths Detection[edit]

Smiths Detection is a designer and manufacturer of sensors that detect and identify explosives, weapons, chemical agents, biohazards, nuclear & radioactive material, narcotics and contraband. These products are widely used in airports, cargo screening at ports and borders, in government buildings and other critical infrastructure, as well as by the military and emergency responder services. They use a wide range of technologies including x-ray, trace detection, millimetre-wave, infra-red, biological detection and diagnostics.

Smiths Medical[edit]

Smiths Medical is a supplier of specialist medical devices and equipment for global markets. The devices include drug delivery systems that help treat cancer patients and provide pain relief. Vital care products reduce hospital-acquired infections, manage patients’ airways before, during, and after surgery, maintain body temperature and assist reproduction through IVF therapy. The safety products keep health workers safe by helping prevent needlestick injuries and reducing cross-infections

John Crane[edit]

John Crane is a provider of products and services for the major process industries, including the oil and gas, power generation, chemical, pharmaceutical, pulp and paper, and mining sectors. John Crane’s products include wet seals, gas seals, couplings, seal support systems, specialist filtration systems, hydrodynamic bearings and equipment for upstream applications.

Smiths Interconnect[edit]

Smiths Interconnect is involved in technically differentiated electronic components and sub systems providing signal, power and microwave solutions.


Flex-Tek is a provider of engineered components, heating and moving fluids and gases for the aerospace, medical, industrial, construction and domestic appliance markets.


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2014". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "About Smith Group". Smiths Group. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Pirone, Sabine (28 September 2011). "Smiths Profit Holds Steady Amid ‘Constrained’ Markets". Bloomberg. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "DealTalk: Medical bid may herald long-awaited Smiths break-up". Reuters. 18 January 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Smiths History". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Graces Guide". Graces Guide. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  7. ^ gibgo12. "Re: Smiths speedometer font?". BritBike Forum. Morgan Johansson. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  8. ^ KEMBLE, FRANCIS. FATHER DONOVAN'S TREE. p. 44. ISBN 9780987906212. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. Ltd. 1". 
  10. ^ E-comservices. "Caerbont Automotive Instruments". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Proposed Merger of Smiths Industries plc: "Smiths Industries" and "TI Group" Business Wire, 17 November 2000
  12. ^ "Engineering rivals to merge". BBC News. 18 September 2000. Retrieved 25 September 2006. 
  13. ^ TI Group plans to sell off auto suppliers[dead link]
  14. ^ "Smiths Agrees to Aerospace Sale." Singer, J. The Wall Street Journal. 15 January 2007.
  15. ^ "Smiths Group buys specialist US power provider for £145m". This is Money. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 

External links[edit]