EMI was a major British company involved in consumer
electronics, music, defence and retail. Created in October 1979 when
Thorn Electrical Industries merged with EMI, it was listed on the
London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index
but it demerged again in 1996.
2.2 Retail and rental
2.5 Computer Software
2.6 Fire and Security Systems
2.7 Business Communications
2.8 Advanced Product Development Centre
2.9 Consumer electronics
2.10 Domestic appliances
2.11 Thorn EMI's Film and Video interests
3 After demerger
5 External links
The Company was formed in October 1979 when Thorn Electrical
Industries merged with EMI.
In May 1984 the Company attempted to merge with
British Aerospace and
in July 1984 it bought the micro-chip manufacturer, INMOS.
EMI acquired the Mullard Equipment Limited ('MEL') division of
Philips in 1990.
On 16 August 1996, Thorn
EMI shareholders voted in favour of demerging
EMI again: the Company became
EMI Group plc, and the
electronics and rentals divisions were divested as Thorn plc.
Thorn EMI's wide range of business covered five principal areas of
activity; television broadcasting, retail/rentals, defence, music and
EMI was, until a share flotation in 1984, the majority
shareholder in the London-based ITV broadcaster Thames Television.
This shareholding was inherited from the 1967 purchase of the
Associated British Picture Corporation
Associated British Picture Corporation by EMI. The deal included their
interests in the ITV company ABC Weekend Television. Through an
enforced merger with Rediffusion London, this became Thames
In 1985 the company attempted to sell their stake to Carlton
Communications but this was blocked by the governing body of ITV, the
Independent Broadcasting Authority.
Retail and rental
Radio Rentals, DER (Domestic Electric Rentals Ltd) and Rumbelows
(which was sold in 1995) Rent-A-Center.
Big Brown Box was launched in Australia in 2008 by Thorn and was later
sold to Appliances Online, subsidiary of
Winning Appliances in 2011.
The site was an online retailer of AV equipment, consumer electronics
From its formation until the mid-1990s Thorn
EMI was one of the United
Kingdom's largest defence companies.
The MEL Division, acquired from Philips, was involved in radar,
electronic warfare and communications. The MEL communications business
was sold to Thomson-CSF, now Thales.
In 1995 the various defence businesses were sold:
EMI Electro Optics to Pilkington Optronics
Thomson Thorn Missile Electronics to Thomson-CSF, now Thales
Thorn Sensors Group to
Racal (to become Racal-Thorn Wells, now also
part of Thales)
EMI label expanded greatly as part of Thorn EMI. In 1989 Thorn EMI
bought a 50% interest in Chrysalis Records, buying the outstanding 50%
in 1991. In one of its highest-profile and most expensive
EMI took over Richard Branson's
Virgin Records in
Main article: Creative Sparks
In the early to mid-1980s, Thorn
EMI Video Programmes released a
number of games for several home computer formats, initially under
their own name. They received a lukewarm reception with no major hits
(though Snooker and Billiards did reach No. 6 in the UK Atari Charts).
These included Computer War, Tank Commander, Snooker and Billiards,
8-Ball and Tournament Pool, Darts, Cribbage and Dominoes (1981) Gold
Rush, Mutant Herd, Road Racer and Volcanic Planet (1983) and River
Rescue (1982). The label was later renamed Creative Sparks.
In 1991, its consulting, systems integration, and outsourcing service
division – Thorn
EMI Software, was a subject of a management
buyout and started to trade as a separate company named "Data
Sciences Ltd". The staff and management paid £82 million for the
£117 million turnover division. In 1996, IBM acquired Data Sciences
plc for £95 million.
From 1981 until about 1983, Thorn
EMI Video Programmes was based in
EMI head office, Orion House on Upper St Martin's Lane, near
Seven Dials in central London. They moved from there to an office in
Soho and the name changed to just Thorn
EMI Video. TEV later became
Fire and Security Systems
Thorn Security installed and serviced all types of electronic security
systems from their bases around the UK, inheriting EMI's well-known
AFA-Minerva lineage. The business was absorbed into ADT soon after the
EMI demerger and all but a handful of the famous red 'THORN' bellboxes
were replaced, mostly by ADT's hexagonal bellboxes, which were
inherited by ADT's prior takeover of Modern Alarms. However, the fire
products are still present in many premises, and until recently spares
and complete systems of Thorn heritage continued to be manufactured by
ADT. Most of Thorn's bells and sounders were rebadged Friedland,
Fulleon Cooper or Hosiden Besson products, with most of the bells made
EMI era being based on the Friedland Master Bell (Big Bell
for 8" models).
This division, based in Marlow provided hotels with televisions and
related equipment. It also embarked upon a project called Hotel 3000
which provided interactive Set-Top-Boxes for hotel rooms in the late
After Thorn's demerger, this division started operating as Quadriga
Advanced Product Development Centre
This small subsidiary further developed existing products as well as
introducing new ones. It was based in St.Lawrence House, Broad Street,
Ferguson Radio Corporation was owned by Thorn
EMI and it made consumer
electronics like TV sets, radios, etc. TVs were designed and
manufactured by Ferguson in the UK until around the early 1990s,
although before this, some Thomson-designed models were introduced to
the Fergsuon range of TVs for sale in the UK. Some of these
Thomson-based models were even manufactured in the UK, although in
later years, these models were made outside the UK by Thomson.
By 1992, the Ferguson TV factory in
Gosport had closed, ending a long
period of manufacturing of Ferguson TVs in the UK.
VCRs were sourced until the early 1990s by a joint company called J2T,
established by JVC, Thorn (Ferguson) and Telefunken. From around 1991,
VCRs were sourced from Thomson alone.
One important aspect of Thorn EMI's business was its ability to
manufacture, say, one of its Ferguson televisions and then to make it
available for rental through its rentals sector or sell it through its
Prism Micro Products was owned by Thorn
EMI for a short period in the
Kenwood Limited is now owned by DeLonghi.
Thorn EMI's Film and Video interests
The newly merged company continued the film interests
EMI had acquired
over the preceding decade; these.had included the former Associated
British Picture Corporation and their facilities at Elstree Studios,
Shenley Road, Borehamwood.
EMI Video was established in 1977. Thorn
EMI released films on
video from various film companies including
Orion Pictures (First
Blood, The Terminator) and
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema (The Evil Dead, Xtro), and
Universal (Bad Boys, Frances) in the 1980s.
HBO in November 1984 to create Thorn EMI/HBO
Video. In 1986, Cannon Films bought Thorn
EMI Screen Entertainment
EMI Films) and the film library, although Cannon sold the latter
HBO maintained an involvement the video company, which became
HBO/Cannon Video. Cannon left operations and the company was
eventually just called
HBO Video in 1987.
Thorn was purchased by Nomura Principal Finance Group in 1998,
which subsequently became
Terra Firma Capital Partners (who also owned
EMI for a period). It disposed of Thorn in 2007 to a private
^ EMI: a giant at war with itself Telegraph, 18 January 2008
^ Reversing corporate diversification and the use of the proceeds from
asset sales: The case of Thorn
EMI Financial Management, Winter 2001
^ Scout & Pilot Archived 11 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Vote solid for Thorn demerger Independent, 17 August 1996
EMI plc" (PDF). Retrieved 29 August 2012.
^ "Data Sciences (Company Profile)". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
^ "IBM to acquire Data Sciences". Strait Times. Retrieved 29 August
^ Quadriga Company History Archived 4 December 2008 at the Wayback
^ Billboard (1 December 1984, page 6)
^ Nomura acquires Thorn of UK...
Detailed Company History
Quadriga, a former