Smiths Industries

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Group.png Smiths Industries   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
FounderSamuel Smith
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
SubgroupsJohn Crane Inc.
SloganBringing technology to life

Smiths Industries says it delivers products and services to the "the threat & contraband detection, energy, medical devices, communications and engineered components markets worldwide".[1]

Smiths Aerospace

The Smiths Group subsidiary Smiths Aerospace holds key positions in the supply chains of all major military, civil aircraft and engine manufacturers, providing electronic and mechanical systems, precision components and customer services. Smiths Aerospace boasts that it provided the weapons control and data management for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.[2]


Through its subsidiary Portex, Smiths Medical is engaged in that little appreciated business opportunity of war: the design, manufacture and distribution of medical devices. Smiths make money from airway management, pain management, needle safety, arterial blood sampling, temperature management, critical care monitoring, hospital and ambulatory infusion, vascular access, thoracic drainage and insulin infusion" and x-ray systems.[3]

John Crane

One of Smiths Group's lines of business is the detection of hazardous substances.[4]

However, a subsidiary of Smith Group, John Crane, Inc., which "designs and manufactures seals and associated products mainly for the oil & gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, pulp & paper and mining sectors",[5] was named in 2001 as a co-defendant in "in numerous law suits pending in the US in which plaintiffs are claiming damages arising from exposure to or use of products containing asbestos."

Regarding this issue, Smiths Group states in its Annual Report 2002:

The John Crane products generally referred to in these cases are ones in which the asbestos fibres were encapsulated in such a manner that, according to tests conducted on behalf of John Crane, the products were safe. John Crane ceased manufacturing products containing asbestos in 1985. ... John Crane has been dismissed before trial from cases involving approximately 76,000 claimants over the last 23 years. John Crane is currently a defendant in cases involving approximately 150,000 claims. Despite these large numbers of claims, John

Crane has had final judgments against it, after appeals, in only 16 cases, amounting to awards of some $13.5m, over that 23 year period.[6]


Board of Directors

  • Donald Brydon Chairman: Previously Chief Executive of AXA Investment Managers SA and prior to that had been Chairman and Chief Executive of BZW Investment Management. He is non-executive Chairman of the London Metal Exchange and AXA Investment Managers SA, a non-executive director of ScottishPower plc, and Chairman of Taylor Nelson Sofres plc. He was formerly Chairman of Amersham plc. Additionally, he is Chairman of the Code Committee of the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers (UK).
  • Keith Butler-Wheelhouse Chief Executive: He was previously President and Chief Executive Officer of Saab Automobile in Sweden and prior to that had been Chairman and Chief Executive of Delta Motor Corporation in South Africa.
  • John Ferrie CBE Group Managing Director, Aerospace: Previously worked at Rolls-Royce for 35 years. He completed an Engineering Doctorate in 1998 and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is a non-executive director of Westbury plc.
  • John Langston Finance Director: Joined TI Group in 1993, becoming Chief Executive of Bundy Automotive in 1996 and Chief Executive of TI Specialty Polymer Products in 1998. He formerly worked for Lucas Industries.
  • David Lillycrop General Counsel: appointed to the Board in December 2000, having been an executive director of TI Group since June 1998. He joined TI Group plc in 1989, becoming Group Company Secretary in 1991 and, additionally, General Counsel in 1997. A barrister, he was previously Director of Legal Affairs at Quaker Oats Ltd. Chairman of TI Pension Trustee Ltd. 1997 to 2005.
  • David Challen Non-executive Director: Vice-Chairman of Citigroup European Investment Bank and former Chairman of J Henry Schroder & Co Ltd. He is a non-executive director of Anglo American plc.
  • Sir Nigel Broomfield, KCMG Non-executive Director: Formerly a non-executive director of TI Group plc since 1998. He is Chairman of Leonard Cheshire and President of the German-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He transferred from the Army to the Foreign Service in 1968. His last post was as British Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany from 1993 to 1997, previously he was at the Brittish Embassy in Moscow at the height of the cold war and head of the Soviet dept., at the FCO rising to Deputy Under Secretary of Defence. Director of the Ditchley Foundation and an adviser to Arthur Andersen.
  • Sir Julian Horn-Smith Non-executive Director: He is Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Vodafone Group plc, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Mannesmann AG and Director of Verizon Wireless in the United States. In addition, he is a non-executive Director of both Lloyds TSB Group plc and the Sage Group plc.
  • Peter Jackson Non-executive Director: Recently retired as Chief Executive of Associated British Foods plc, the international food and retail group, a post he had held since June 1999. He had been a member of the ABF board since December 1992. He is a non-executive director of Kingfisher plc.
  • Sir Kevin Tebbit Non-executive Director: Formerly Foreign & Commonwealth Office, NATO and finally the Ministry of Defence, where he was Permanent Under-Secretary of State from July 1998 to his retirement in November 2005. In 1987-88 he was appointed director of cabinet to the Nato secretary general, Lord Carrington, and from 1988-91 was politico-military counsellor at the British embassy, Washington, serving in that capacity during the first Gulf war. In June 1997 he became deputy under-secretary of state for defence and intelligence, and a member of the joint intelligence committee (JIC). In January 1998 he became director at GCHQ, the government's secret listening post at Cheltenham.

Tebbit came to prominence in the Hutton Inquiry as Dr Kelly's line manager. According to the Guardian Tebbit told the Hutton inquiry that decisions were taken at the No 10 meeting [attended by Alastair Campbell, Jonathan Powell and John Scarlett] both to issue an MoD press statement giving details of Dr Kelly and to confirm his identity if journalists put his name to ministry officials. This contradicted the remarks made by Blair on a plane in Hong Kong. Since the hearing two Labour MPs have written to the attorney general asking him to investigate allegations that Tebbit tried to block inquiries from the Serious Fraud Office regarding an alleged BAE slush fund designed to bribe Saudi officials.

Former Directors

  • Sir Colin Chandler Non-executive Deputy Chairman (£43,000). Also Chairman of Vickers Defence Systems and a Non-executive Director of Thales. Worked for British Aerospace and, on secondment, became Head of the MoD's Defence Export Services. Was chairman of Racal Electronics.
  • Robert O'Leary Deceased 14 August 2006: Formerly served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Valeant from June 2002 to January 2005. He was formerly Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Premier Inc. and of American Medical International. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of Thermo Electron Corporation and of Viasys Healthcare Inc.
  • Frances Hurn : Pilkington PLC, SG Warburg.
  • George M Kennedy : Arthur Lee & Sons PLC, Concord LTD, Eschmann Bros. & Walsh, Grosvenor Surg LTD, Portex LTD.
  • N V Barber : Smiths Aerospace & Defense.
  • Sir Alexandr Jarrett : Centre for Dispute Resolution, Prudential Corp. PLC.
  • Sir Austin Pearce : Jaguar LTD, Pearl Group PLC.
  • Sir James Hamilton : Hawker Siddeley Group LTD, Davenport Management LTD, Nfer-Nelson.
  • Sir Peter Thompson : Child Base LTD, Community Hospitals PLC, F I Group, M33 & M31 Groups, Pilkington PLC, Proshare LTD, Wembley PLC.
  • John Lyon : Bowater PLC

Further Reading

Campaign Against Arms Trade profile of Smiths Group 2002. This notes smith's recent acqisitions: Chapman Avionics (2001), TI Group Merged with Smiths Industries in December 2000. The combination of Smiths Industries Aerospace and TI's Dowty Group, Fairchild Defense (2000), BAE Systems' Actuation Systems division (2000), Invensys' aerospace division (2000), ETG (1999), Strategic Technology Systems (STS) (1999), Stewart Hughes Ltd (1998), Graseby (1997). Major customers of Smiths include BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce.

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  1. "Smiths Group", Smiths Group website, accessed 14 April 2009
  2. "Smiths Aerospace systems on F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter first flight", press release, Smiths Group, 15 Dec 2006, accessed 14 April 2009
  3. "Portex", Smiths-Medical website, accessed 14 April 2009
  4. "Smiths Group buys US hazardous material detection specialist for $75m", press release, Smiths Group, 14 April 2004, accessed 14 April 2009
  5. "Welcome to John Crane", John Crane website, accessed 14 April 2009
  6. "Engineering Growth: Smiths Group plc Annual Report and Accounts 2002", Smiths Industries, accessed 14 April 2009