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British Industrial History

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F. H. Tomkins

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of Walsall, Staffs

Founded as F.H. Tomkins Buckle Company, a small British manufacturer of buckles and fasteners. Later grew into an international conglomerate Tomkins plc.

1925 Established as a private company.

1950 Company made public.

1950 Acquired O. D. Guest Ltd, manufacturer of buckles and small metalwares[1].

1961 Manufacturers of metal smallwares and wire work, including buckles, slides, dees, rings, and snap hooks. 200 employees.

1961 Company converted into a holding company F. H. Tomkins (Holding) Ltd; the existing company became a subsidiary F. H. Tomkins[2].

1961 Acquired Bromford Iron and Steel Co[3]

1964 Proposed merger of Musical and Plastic Industries (MPI), whose main product was the Beatle guitar, with Empire Rib, an umbrella manufacturer, and F. H. Tomkins by exchange of one share of MPI for one share of each of the other 2 companies; Mr Denis Royston, chairman of Empire Rib was also a director of Tomkins and, with another individual, owned 37.5% of MPI[4] but the merger did not proceed.

1965 Tomkins sold its shares in Bromford Iron and Steel Co to Cooper Investments; Tomkins intended "to maintain profits by acquiring, for cash, other companies now under negotiation"[5].

1965 Purchased Steel Nut and Joseph Hampton[6] and W. Martin Winn. Repayment of an outstanding loan to Empire Rib affected the payment of dividend[7]. Shares suspended.

1966 Loan from Empire Rib settled by the transfer, by its subsidiary Arnold and Wood, of steel stockholders Monkhouse and Brown to Steel Nut and Joseph Hampton[8]. Tomkins shares restored to stock exchange[9].

1968 Acquired Webb Condenser Co Ltd and Hopewell Engineers Merchants Ltd.

1969 Monkhouse and Brown sold to Hall Engineering (Dies)[10].

1973 Acquired C. Walters and Sons of Manchester, stockholders of fasteners[11].

1976 Acquired 2 distributors: Hexagon Tool Supplies and Hexagon Fasteners[12].

1978 Mitchell Somers bought 21 percent of the shares of F. H. Tomkins[13] but sold them in 1983.

1981 Part of the assets of Woden Steel and Fasteners at Wednesbury were sold to Brasway[14]. Major reorganisation was undertaken in many parts of the group. Subsequently acquired Essanbee Products, a distributor of fasteners.

1984 Greg Hutchings appointed chief executive. Strategy adopted to become a more broadly-based industrial holding company. Agreement to purchase Ferraris Piston Services Ltd, a vehicle component and spares distribution company[15].

1984 New management had taken over, some acquisitions and rationalization had been undertaken, tight financial controls imposed, profits improved but gearing was high. Further acquisitions were planned to focus the company on distribution rather than metal forming[16].

1985 Rights issue. Hayters had been purchased. F. H. Tomkins then agreed to purchase 8 companies from GKN. Share placing with institutional investors[17]. Shareholders agreed to the purchase of:

but Firth Cleveland Steel Strip and Firth Cleveland Steels in the USA were not included in the deal[18].

1980s The Company embarked on a succession of acquisitions, which rapidly increased the revenue, product range and global reach.

1986 Acquired Pegler-Hattersley, the largest acquisition to date and the only hostile bid by Tomkins; the group was reorganised into 3 divisions[19]. The increased scale of the business allowed further purchases including US companies Smith and Wesson and Murray, maker of lawnmowers.

1992 Purchased RHM.

1996 Major acquisitions included the US-based Gates Corporation in 1996, which signalled a move into the industrial and automotive markets, and the Stant and Schrader businesses that further bolstered this division.

1996 Recognising the need to strengthen and build upon its market leadership positions in its core engineering markets, Tomkins began a process of streamlining its activities by disposing of a number of businesses.

1998 Acquired 6 flour mills as well as Fleming Howden, the Scottish supplier to bakers from Kerry Group[20]

1998 Sold F H Tomkins Buckle Co[21]

2010 Tomkins plc was a global manufacturing group with revenue in excess of £3 billion and over 37,000 employees. It was acquired by Onex Corporation of Toronto[22]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 8 August 1950
  2. The Times, 3 July 1961
  3. The Times, Sep 24, 1962
  4. The Times, 19 August 1964
  5. The Times, 22 January 1965
  6. The Times, 21 October 1965
  7. The Times, 2 December 1965
  8. The Times, 17 February 1966
  9. The Times, 26 April 1966
  10. The Times, 22 May 1969
  11. The Times, 9 March 1973
  12. The Times, 5 May 1976
  13. The Times, 21 February 1978
  14. The Times, 13 January 1981
  15. The Times, 18 January 1984
  16. The Times, 31 July 1984
  17. The Times, 30 July 1985
  18. The Times, 14 August 1985
  19. The Times, August 27, 1986
  20. The Times Feb. 13, 1998
  21. The Times, November 16, 1998
  22. The Times July 20, 2010