Thorn Electrical Industries

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Thorn Electrical Industries
IndustryElectrical engineering
SuccessorThorn EMI
HeadquartersLondon, UK

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.


Sir Jules Thorn and Alfred Deutsch founded the company in March 1928 as The Electric Lamp Service Company Ltd. Thorn had worked in England as a travelling salesman 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 1950s and Ultra Radio & Television in 1961.[2]

In 1965 Thorn took over local Edmonton 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), Rumbelows (electrical goods), Tricity (cookers and fridges), Kenwood (food mixers), Thorn Kidde (fire protection), TMD[4] (microwave equipment) and Mazda (light bulbs).

Merger with EMI[edit]

In October 1979 Thorn merged with EMI to form Thorn EMI.[5]

On 16 August 1996 Thorn EMI shareholders voted in favour of de-merging Thorn. The electronics and rentals divisions were divested as Thorn plc.[6]

Future Rentals, a subsidiary of Nomura Group, acquired Thorn in 1998;[7] 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.[8]


  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 Archived 2009-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Company Background". TMD Technologies. TMD Technologies Limited. Archived from the original on 2015-07-09. Retrieved 2015-06-16. TMD can trace its roots back to the early 1940's, when the microwave tube research division of EMI Electronics was established to develop high power klystrons, for use in the first airborne radars being developed during the second world war. [...] In 1989 the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of THORN EMI Electronics [...] In 1995 THORN EMI sold the company to a "Management Buy Out" team, led by the Managing Director, and as TMD Technologies this is now a wholly owned, fully independent private UK company.
  5. ^ EMI: a giant at war with itself Telegraph, 18 January 2008
  6. ^ Solid vote for Thorn demerger Independent, 17 August 1996
  7. ^ Normura will buy Thorn plc The Boston Globe, 1 July 1998
  8. ^ Thorn at Terra Firma

See also[edit]