Smiths Group

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Smiths Group plc
Public limited company
Traded as LSESMIN
Industry Engineering
Founded 1851 (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 business 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.

S Smith & Sons[edit]

This watch chronometer and instrument makers business was established by Samuel Smith in London in 1851. Their premises were in The Strand and they were watchmakers to the Admiralty. Retailing and wholesaling of Smiths-branded motor accessories was added in 1904 when a Watford supplier turned out Smith's first speedometer—The Perfect Speed Indicator. Growth was fast. Smiths began to manufacture some of their own motor products particularly speedometers. From mid-1913 all motor accessories activities were carried out from handsome purpose-built premises at Speedometer House, 179-185 Great Portland Street ("Motor Row"). The premises in the Strand became a Lyons tearoom but jewellers establishments were retained at Trafalgar Square and 68 Piccadilly. By this time motor accessories production included Smiths multiple-jet carburettors (designed by Trier & Martin), lighting sets[note 1] and electric starters, generators and the Smith's Auto-Clear mechanical horn.[5]

The outbreak of war in 1914 led to the capture of markets around the world previously held by the German competition. By 1915 new War Office contracts for aeroplane accessories, lighting sets etc. and munitions required the speedy erection of a new freehold factory. The new factory, known as Cricklewood Works, was built at Cricklewood, north London.[6] In 1921 Great Portland Street activities were moved to Cricklewood following 1920's purchase of the former Metallurgique works alongside their Cricklewood Works.[7] Post World War I their accessories became standard fittings in new cars all provided by the manufacturer.[8]

First half of 20th century[edit]


At the start of the 20th century, the age of the early automobiles, Smith & Sons produced the first British odometer ("mileometer") and speedometer.[9] 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.[10]

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, [11]

The KLG Sparking Plug distribution rights were purchased from Kenelm Lee Guinness in 1919. The British Jaeger Instrument Company was purchased in 1927 as was the KLG Sparking Plug Company (Robinhood Engineering).[12] The Jackall hydraulic jacking system was manufactured from 1935 by Smith's Jacking Systems and immediately became standard equipment in many popular cars. In 1937 a separate aircraft and marine department was created in the parent company and named Smiths Aircraft Instruments. It operated with Smiths subsidiary Henry Hughes and Son manufacturers of aircraft and marine instruments.[13]

Activities, 1945[14]
  • Smiths Motor Accessories
  • KLG Sparking Plugs
  • British Jaeger Instruments
  • Smiths Jacking Systems
Clocks and Watches
  • Smiths English Clocks
  • Enfield Clock Co (London)
  • English Clock Systems
  • ABEC
  • British Precision Springs
Aircraft and Marine
  • Smiths Aircraft Instruments
  • Henry Hughes & Sons
  • Marine Instruments
  • Furzehill Laboratories
  • Smiths Industrial Instruments
  • AT Instruments

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.[15]

Second half of 20th century[edit]

Aviation, marine and industrial[edit]

Separate Smiths Aviation and Smiths Marine divisions were set up in 1958.[9] In 1960, an Industrial division was formed whose main operations were industrial instrumentation.[9] 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,[9] and by the 1980s, the automotive instrument division had been sold,[9] 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.[16]

21st century[edit]

Mergers, divestments and acquisitions[edit]

The company's name was changed to Smiths Group plc on 30 November 2000[17] and on 4 December, Smiths completed a merger with TI Group. TI had major interests in aerospace, industrial seals and automotive parts.[18] However Smiths divested TI Automotive shortly after the merger.[19]

In 2007 GE Aviation, a division of General Electric, acquired Smith's aerospace subsidiary, Smiths Aerospace, for US$4.8 billion.[20]

In September 2011 Smiths Group acquired the United States-based power technology enterprise, Power Holdings Inc., for £145 million.[21]


Following an enterprise-wide restructuring programme in mid 2008, Smiths Group 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 and 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.

Smiths Interconnect’s brands are divided into three Business Units: Smiths Connectors, Smiths Microwave and Smiths Power.

Smiths Connectors[edit]

Connectors comprises Hypertac, Sabritec and IDI.

Smiths Microwave[edit]

Microwave comprises Kaelus, Radio Waves, TECOM, TRAK, LORCH, TRAK Europe, Millitech, EMC Technology and Florida RF Labs.

Smiths Power[edit]

Power comprises PDI, Onyx, PolyPhaser, Transtector, DOWIN, LEA and RO Associates.


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. ^ headlamps, sidelights, tail lights, dynamo


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2014" (PDF). 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. ^ Prospectus. S. Smith & Sons, Limited. The Times, Tuesday, Jul 21, 1914; pg. 20; Issue 40581
  6. ^ S. Smith & Sons (Motor Accessories), Limited. The Times, Thursday, Sep 09, 1915; pg. 11; Issue 40955
  7. ^ S. Smith & Sons (M.A.) Ltd. The Times, Friday, Feb 25, 1921; pg. 9; Issue 42654
  8. ^ Company Results. The Times, Thursday, Nov 26, 1931; pg. 21; Issue 45990
  9. ^ a b c d e "Smiths History". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  10. ^ gibgo12. "Re: Smiths speedometer font?". BritBike Forum. Morgan Johansson. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  11. ^ KEMBLE, FRANCIS. FATHER DONOVAN'S TREE. p. 44. ISBN 9780987906212. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  12. ^ S. Smith And Sons (Motor Accessories). The Times, Friday, Dec 09, 1927; pg. 23; Issue 44760
  13. ^ S. Smith & Sons (Motor Accessories). The Times, Friday, Nov 19, 1937; pg. 24; Issue 47846
  14. ^ S.Smith & Son Ltd. The Times, Wednesday, May 23, 1945; pg. 7; Issue 50149
  15. ^ "Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. Ltd. 1". 
  16. ^ E-comservices. "Caerbont Automotive Instruments". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  17. ^ Proposed Merger of Smiths Industries plc: "Smiths Industries" and "TI Group" Business Wire, 17 November 2000
  18. ^ "Engineering rivals to merge". BBC News. 18 September 2000. Retrieved 25 September 2006. 
  19. ^ TI Group plans to sell off auto suppliers[dead link]
  20. ^ "Smiths Agrees to Aerospace Sale." Singer, J. The Wall Street Journal. 15 January 2007.
  21. ^ "Smiths Group buys specialist US power provider for £145m". This is Money. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 

External links[edit]