J. Smith & Sons (the company that
became Smiths Metal Centres) was established in 1780 at a
site in Clerkenwell, London (picture right)
The original business was clock
making and J. Smiths & Sons became a very well known name as a
supplier of all kinds clocks from large turret clocks for
buildings such as churches (picture below) to small decorative clocks for
Over time the business developed various new
skills and techniques and our clocks were recognised for their
excellence at numerous trade exhibitions and export fairs. As a
consequence the business grew quickly to become one of the major
clock makers in the country but when war broke out at the start
of the 20th century the demand for clocks, especially the large
clocks the Smiths specialised in, declined dramatically.
By this time, however, the manufacturing of
clocks within the business had grown to such a level that we'd
become a major player in the purchasing of raw materials from
all over the world. So much so in fact that we were able to
successfully transform the business into a supplier of these raw
materials to other manufacturing companies.
Over time, the clock making side of the
business declined and the last clock was made in 1938. Smiths
was still a large successful business but instead of clock
making it now focused all of its efforts on material
stockholding and distribution.
Over the next few decades the
business expanded rapidly and a network of service centres was
opened starting with premises at Biggleswade and Horsham. In
Delta PLC, a large engineering conglomerate, acquired Smiths and
invested heavily to further expand the operation. In 1991, a
brand new, purpose built, head office and bulk store was opened
in Biggleswade (see below) a few hundred yards from the first site opened in
At the same time as opening the new head
office and bulk store, the name of the business was changed to
Smiths Metal Centres Ltd. This completed an expansion that
resulted in branches across the UK all linked to the bulk store
In 1998, Delta PLC went through a process of
restructuring and, as a result, Smiths was bought by its
management team in an MBO. The same management team that had
guided Smiths through its expansion in the early 1990s now owned
the business and unsurprisingly the business continued to expand
with a number of new acquisitions and the formation of several
new trading divisions.
Today, Smiths is one of the UK's largest
stockholders with 12 branches in all corners of the country.
With a turnover exceeding £40 million and stocks of over 3,000
tonnes, we've evolved to become as expert in raw material supply
as we once were in clock manufacture.