Morphy Richards

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Morphy Richards
Subsidiary
Industry Home appliances
Founded July 8, 1936; 80 years ago (1936-07-08)
Headquarters Talbot Road, Swinton, South Yorkshire, UK
Area served
Australia, United Kingdom, India, Israel
Key people
CEO: Phil Green
Parent Glen Dimplex
Website www.morphyrichards.com

Morphy Richards is a brand of electrical appliances, headquartered in the Swinton Meadows Industrial Estate, Swinton, near Mexborough, South Yorkshire, England. Many products were formerly made in its historic home of Mexborough; all products are now imported.

Product range[edit]

It specialises in toasters, hair dryers, bread makers, kettles and sandwich toasters and other appliances. In its early stage it also made refrigerators and washer-dryers, but these would be later made by Hotpoint. It is owned by the Irish Glen Dimplex electronics group. They also make Digital Radio Mondiale-compatible digital radios, one of very few companies to do so.[citation needed]

History[edit]

A 1950s Morphy-Richards iron with original box

Donal Morphy of Chislehurst and Charles Richards of Farnborough, London formed Morphy-Richards Ltd on 8 July 1936 at an oast house in St Mary Cray in Kent. Morphy and Richards were joint managing directors, and had raised £1,000. It began making electric fires and from March 1938 it made electric irons. During the war its factories made components for the aircraft industry.

A. Reyrolle & Company took 30% of the company in June 1944 and their General Manager was on the board of directors. Exports accounted for around 15% of turnover, helped by subsidiary companies in Australia and South Africa. It later opened a Canadian subsidiary. The company was producing around 2,000 irons per day.

On 1 May 1947, it became a public company and merged with Astral Equipment Ltd, a company in Dundee, Scotland that made spin dryers and refrigerators. Astral became a wholly owned subsidiary. George Wansbrough was the company chairman from 1944-54. In 1949, it produced its first automatic toaster which used a bi-metallic strip. It also produced the Simon electric floor scrubber. In 1953, it produced its first hairdryer and claimed to have 90% of the market six years later, as it sold very well. In 1954 it introduced a steam iron; these were still comparatively revolutionary twenty years later. At the same time it introduced electrical convector heaters and panel heaters (ceramic heaters). By 1957, it was the UK's leading provider of electric blankets, had produced its 10 millionth electric iron, and was producing 60% of the toasters made in the UK. It had bought Yelsen Ltd, a manufacturer of electric blankets at Ruxley in Kent, on 16 June 1957 for £112,000, which became a subsidiary. Also in June, new factories opened at the main site and Dundee. 40% of products were exported and overseas subsidiaries had been established. Morphy did not like the huge expansion of the company, but Richards thought it was too slow. Sir Patrick Bishop became chairman in 1957.

EMI[edit]

Morphy sold his share of the company to EMI (Electric and Musical Industries) in August 1960, who then tried to take-over the company, as did Philips Electrical Industries. On the board of directors, Morphy supported the EMI offer, but Richards did not. EMI took over the company in September 1960. In the late 1950s the company had developed the Silavent ventilation system.,[1] manufactured for them by Robert McArd & Co.

In December 1960, the Chairman, Sir Patrick Bishop, resigned and Richards left the board. Morphy also left as managing director, but stayed on the board. Graham Hurst became managing director. By March 1961, Richards had joined GEC as joint managing director of their electrical appliance division. On 12 May 1961, a new £500,000 factory at Dundee built by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts was opened by Richard Wood, Baron Holderness, then the Minister of Power. The Dundee site was managed by Willis Roxburgh until July 1966, and produced around a quarter of all fridges in the UK. By 1962 it was exporting to over 120 countries. In August 1962 the company appointed Faber Birren to give advice on colours of products. On 7 December 1962, Richards joined the board of directors of GEC. In October 1963, it took over the record-player division of EMI. On 15 November 1964, Charles Richards died aged 64 at his house in Buckinghamshire.

In February 1965 there were discussions with English Electric to merge their large appliance divisions. In April 1965 Norman Tomlinson became managing director.

GEC[edit]

On 26 May 1966, EMI and AEI, owners of Hotpoint, decided to merge their domestic appliance divisions to form British Domestic Appliances (BDA) from 1 July 1966. Morphy Richards was employing about 4,000 people. The headquarters of BDA was at Peterborough, the site of the main Hotpoint factory. In September 1967, GEC announced it wanted to take over AEI, and on 24 May 1968 GEC agreed to merge its domestic appliance division with BDA. EMI would own a third, and GEC two thirds. The managing director of BDA from September 1966, Laurence Peterken, was the new managing director, but he left two weeks later.

The domestic appliance manufacture was moved to the Swinton Works at Mexborough, and in 1970 the original factory in St Mary Cray, which employed around 1,200 people, was closed. The nearby Ruxley factory manufactured kettles and coffee percolators. In January 1970 it was decided to remove the Morphy Richards brand from the fridges. It was argued that GEC had little interest in Morphy Richards. On 25 May 1975 Donal Morphy died, aged 74.

In the 1970s, BDA was the UK's largest manufacturer of domestic appliances. BDA changed its name to Hotpoint in 1975, with small domestic appliances marketed under the Morphy Richards name.

Glen Dimplex[edit]

On 10 May 1985, Morphy Richards was acquired by Glen Dimplex of Northern Ireland. From the late 1980s, the company was once again very successful with advances in electronics making their way into domestic appliances. In the 1990s, the product range grew much larger.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

  • Russell Hobbs - formed in 1952 by two former Morphy & Richards employees.

References[edit]

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