Thorn Electrical Industries

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Thorn Electrical Industries
Industry Electrical engineering
Fate Merged
Successor Thorn EMI
Founded 1928
Defunct 1998

Thorn Electrical Industries, Limited was an electrical engineering business. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange but it merged with EMI Group to form Thorn EMI in 1979. It demerged again in 1996 and became a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but was acquired by Nomura Group just two years later.


The Company was founded by Jules Thorn and Alfred Deutsch in March 1928 as The Electric Lamp Service Company Ltd. Thorn was a travelling salesman working in England for Olso, an Austrian manufacturer of gas mantles. When Olso went bankrupt, Thorn decided to stay in England. Deutsch, an Austrian engineer, visited Thorn in 1928 and was persuaded to stay to help organize the company's production process.[1]

In 1932, Thorn acquired the Atlas Lamp Works and began making light bulbs in Edmonton, North London. The company grew rapidly to become Thorn Lighting, one of the world’s largest producers of lamps, luminaires and lighting components. The name changed to Thorn Electrical Industries in November 1936. The company later began to diversify by buying Ferguson Radio Corporation in the late 50's and Ultra Radio & Television in 1961.[2]

In 1965, Thorn took over local firm Glover and Main, gas appliance manufacturers.[3]

Other notable brands within the Thorn group over the years have included Radio Rentals, DER (both TV rental) and Rumbelows (electrical goods), HMV (music), Tricity (cookers and fridges), Kenwood (food mixers), Thorn Kidde (fire protection) and Mazda (light bulbs).

In October 1979, Thorn merged with EMI to form Thorn EMI.[4]

On 16 August 1996, Thorn EMI shareholders voted in favour of demerging Thorn again and the electronics and rentals divisions were divested as Thorn plc.[5]

Thorn was acquired by Future Rentals, a subsidiary of Nomura Group in 1998;[6] it subsequently passed to Terra Firma Capital Partners who set up the BrightHouse chain. The remainder of the company was sold to a private buyer in June 2007.[7]


  1. ^ "His Master's Voice" (in German), in Kultur&Technik magazine, April 1998, accessed 2014-04-18
  2. ^ Vintage Technology: Ultra Electric
  3. ^ Competition Commission Report on Thorn Electrical Industries
  4. ^ EMI: a giant at war with itself Telegraph, 18 January 2008
  5. ^ Solid vote for Thorn demerger Independent, 17 August 1996
  6. ^ Normura will buy Thorn plc The Boston Globe, 1 July 1998
  7. ^ Thorn at Terra Firma

See also[edit]