|Headquarters||Fir Street, Oldham Road, Failsworth, Oldham, M35 0HS|
After working with REME in World War II and leaving in 1947 as a Major, Bill Russell (22 July 1920 – 16 February 2006), from High Wycombe, joined Morphy Richards and helped to design a pop-up toaster, an electric iron and a hairdryer, when working as Chief Development Engineer. Peter Hobbs (3 May 1916 – 11 April 2008), from Tunbridge Wells, was a Major during the war in the Royal Engineers, and also worked for the home appliance manufacturer, Morphy Richards, as manager of the South African division of the company. He had returned to the UK in 1952, after a disagreement with Charles Richards over sales policy, and worked for another company, where he was trying to design a coffee percolator, with reference to a German patent. Later in 1952 Bill Russell had a disagreement with Donal Morphy and joined Hobbs to form Russell Hobbs Ltd.
In 1952, they designed the world's first automatic coffee percolator, the CP1, with Russell's ingenuity and started the Russell Hobbs company at 1 Bensham Lane in Broad Green, Croydon, Surrey, near the A213/A235 junction south of Mayday Hospital.
Russell was in charge of product development, and Hobbs was the sales director. Russell's de facto ultimate safety test for any new product was to pour half a pint of boiling gravy on it. The company was always in profit from day one. In the late 1960s it was chiefly manufacturing automatic electric coffee pots, vapour-controlled electric kettles, and tea makers.
- The automatic electric kettle K1 (a world first), designed in October 1955, used a bi-metallic strip at the rear of the kettle: steam was forced through an aperture in the lid of the strip and this knocked the switch, turning the kettle off.
- In 1960, the K2 kettle was introduced, which was manufactured for the next thirty years, and was possibly its best known product.
- They designed the world's first fully programmable kettle, the M2.
- In 1977 they made the first all-plastic kettles, the Futura. However it was still the 'normal' shape of a kettle, and distrusted (would it melt?), and only when Redring introduced the Autoboil in 1979 did kettles become the taller jug shape adopted today. Tefal introduced the cordless kettle in 1986. Plastic kettles used the Polyoxymethylene acetal copolymer (POMC), also known as kemetal, celcon, hostaform or ultraform.
- In 1997 it introduced the Millennium kettle that used a special flat OPTEC element to boil water in half the time, with a limescale filter.
The company also makes:
- Electric kettles
- Filter Coffee Machines
- Sandwich toasters
- Smoothie makers
- Electric hobs
- Electric shavers (after merging with Remington)
- Electric jar openers
- Bread makers
- Food processors
- Microwave ovens
- Vacuum cleaners
In 1962, they needed to expand the company to increase production and needed more capital. They were forced to sell the company to Tube Investments (TI), a conglomerate of electrical appliance brands who also owned Creda (a competitor of Hotpoint's range of products - GEC at the time owned both Hotpoint and Morphy Richards). Production was moved to Wombourne in Staffordshire, where it was shared with Creda and to Blythe Bridge in Stoke-on-Trent, in a former aircraft factory later owned by Indesit which closed in December 2007. The Blythe Bridge site on Grindley Lane was shared with Simplex Electric Co Ltd (owner of Creda), and Simplex-GE, a joint venture of TI with GE of America that made electrical switching equipment. Simplex also made tungsten-iodine floodlighting (halogen lamp). Russell became technical director of Creda, then managed Turnright. As part of the Electrical Division of TI, it was headquartered at Simplex House on Ealing Road in Alperton, Middlesex. The Domestic Appliance division of TI was later based at Radiation House on the North Circular Road in Neasden. In the mid-1970s Dimplex diversified into coffee percolators and electric kettles due to former Russell Hobbs engineers joining the company. In the mid-1970s the company tried to persuade the French to buy its electric kettles, but they still preferred to boil water with saucepans (and did so for the next twenty years). The use of electric kettles across Europe was sporadic. In the late 1970s the Managing Director was David Durham. The heyday of the TI Group was in 1978, but by the early 1980s, the TI Group was facing difficulties, with its workforce halving. TI Group formally referred to Russell Hobbs as TI Russell Hobbs.
TI sold off their consumer brands, with the company going to Polly Peck International, on 11 December 1986 for £12 million, along with Tower Housewares (a utensil - pots and pans - manufacturer based at Womborne near Wolverhampton). The subsidiary was known as Russell Hobbs Tower. Creda would be sold to GEC in June 1987. In the late 1980s Russell Hobbs sponsored sports events. In August 1990 it was planned to take Polly Peck off the stock market, in a £2 billion buyout to take the company private, but this fell through and the share price collapsed. In October 1990 the company went into administration. Russell Hobbs, now based at Womborne, was thought to be worth £25 million. For the last three years up to 1991, Russell Hobbs Tower was losing around a million pounds a month.
Polly Peck collapsed and Russell Hobbs was bought by Pifco Holdings, originally known as Provincial Incandescent Fittings Co. Ltd, based in Failsworth on 5 April 1991 for £7.75 million.
Pifco was bought by Salton on 4 June 2001 for £50 million. Pifco, the British manufacturer of appliances such as teasmades became known as Salton Europe. The parent company, Salton Inc., is based in Lake Forest, Illinois, and has a Canadian division in Ontario. In March 2002, Salton Europe closed down their factory on Bridgnorth Road in Wombourne near Wolverhampton, moving their last bit of production to China. The kettle switches are made by Strix, based in the Isle of Man, which makes switches for most other kettle manufacturers.
Russell Hobbs Inc
In December 2007, two companies in the small household appliance business, Salton, Inc. and Applica Incorporated, merged. Applica became a wholly owned subsidiary of Salton. In December 2009, the combined company (formerly known as Salton, Inc.) changed its name to Russell Hobbs, Inc.
The Pifco brand is no longer used by Russell Hobbs, but was licensed for use by KB (Import and Export) Ltd in 2007 who went on to market a range of electrical items under the brand, from LED christmas lights and lighting to heating and cooling appliances. The brand is currently licensed by electrical distributor RKW Ltd and used for a range of small domestic appliances.
- "About Russell Hobbs". russellhobbs.com. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
- About us Official Russell Hobbs website
- Russell Hobbs Milestones Official Russell Hobbs website
- Russell Hobbs Milestones Official Russell Hobbs website
- Pifco - Graces Guide
- Salton buys up Pifco Group AllBusiness.com article
- UK Activity Report UkBusinessPark.co.uk article
- Russell Hobbs Homepage Russell Hobbs Homepage
- "William Russell". The Daily Telegraph (London). 4 March 2006. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
- "Peter Hobbs". The Daily Telegraph (London). 19 April 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
- Russell Hobbs
- Graces Guide
- uno:uno Coffee maker
- Reviews at DooYoo
- Reviews at Ciao!
- Russell Hobbs Russia
- Peter Hobbs celebrates 50 years of the electric kettle
- William Russell's obituary