Early IMI History
IMI’s origins can be traced back to 1862, when a Victorian entrepreneur opened a percussion cap factory in Birmingham, UK before rapidly diversifying into businesses such as a brass rolling mill, a printing works, soap manufacturers, and the manufacture of bicycle components and metals.
In the early 20th century, the company created a metallurgical laboratory, whose technical advances helped make the company a world leader in metals technologies. In the 1920s, the company became a major supplier of carburettors and radiators for both cars and planes.
In the early days…
In 1927, Kynoch and Eley along with Nobel Industries were three of the four founding companies of Imperial Chemical Industries(ICI) and the Birmingham site became the head office and principal manufacturing base of ICI Metals Division.
ICI Metals became the UK’s largest supplier of copper and copper alloys in the 1930s, and had significant business in heat exchangers and sporting ammunition. Then known as Imperial Metal Industries, in the 1950s, one of the company’s most significant achievements was to perfect the process by which titanium could be produced on a commercial scale.
The Modern IMI
The modern IMI began life in Birmingham in 1962 when, on the centenary of the founding of the original firm, the company was renamed IMI Ltd. IMI’s ambitions and distinct identity resulted in a stock exchange listing in 1966, with the parent ICI retaining a majority holding.
In 1978, ICI sold its remaining interest and IMI became a fully independent public company.
During the 1980s the company moved towards higher-margin finished products like pipes, tubes and fittings, and in 1989, world-wide sales exceeded £1 billion for the first time.
The 1990s were characterised by restructuring, with the expansion of higher-margin finished product businesses, and the divestment of metal smelting, metal founding and construction-related businesses.
In 2003, IMI moved to new international headquarters at Lakeside, Birmingham Business Park, convenient for the fast international connections offered by nearby Birmingham Airport.
In the last few years, IMI plc has focused its business tightly around three operating divisions, IMI Critical Engineering, IMI Precision Engineering and IMI Hydronic Engineering.