Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,165 pages of information and 245,632 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Wolseley Hughes

From Graces Guide

of Witton, Birmingham

1958 The company was started through the merging of Wolseley Engineering and George H. Hughes

1959 Acquired Electromagnets

1960 Nu-Way Heating became a member of the Wolseley Hughes group of companies.

1961 Wolseley Engineering: manufacturers of sheep shearing and horse and cattle clipping machines, electric fencer units, small cultivators and combines, petrol and paraffin engines, toilet clippers and aero engine components.

1963 New company formed by Wolseley Hughes as a subsidiary of Nu-Way Heating Plants. This was called Nu-Way Benson. It was formed by amalgamation of the agricultural machinery airheater (Econoil) division of Nu-Way Heating Plants with Adams and Benson (Agricultural)[1]

1960s Acquired a number of heating and oil burning companies in rapid succession in the UK. A move into merchanting followed.

1965 The subsidiaries included[2]:

1968 Additional subsidiaries[3]:

1973 Became Wolseley-Hughes Merchants, distributing spare parts for oil boilers, domestic radiators and boilers.

1973 Wolseley Engineering and Webb Lawnmowers were merged[4]

1979 As well as being the UK's largest distributor of central heating equipment, also manufactured Webb and Wizard lawnmowers, Merry Tiller cultivators, Kidd grassland equipment, McConnel Power Arms, Parmiter harrows, Nu-Way burners, Hughes wheels, and Boxmag industrial magnets; had recently acquired K. S. Pipeline Supplies and John James Group[5]

From 1980, the Group expanded its businesses through organic growth and acquisitions in the USA, Canada and Europe, as well as selling loss-making units and management buy-outs.

1982 Management buy-out of Benson Heating; other management buy-outs and sales planned; acquisition of Ferguson Enterprises of USA, distributor of plumbing, heating, piping and industrial products in the USA[6]

1983 Nu-Way Heating Plants renamed Nu-Way

1984 the Group sold its engineering divisions to focus solely on distribution.[7]

1985 Acquired Plumb-Centre from Marley[8]

1985 Wolseley Centers was established to distribute building products

1985 Acquired Carolina Builders Corporation of USA

1986 Acquired Grovewood Securities, the industrial conglomerate owned by BAT, except for a few parts of that business[9]

1986 The Group, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange, changed its name to Wolseley plc.

1993 Acquisition of the Enertech Group of companies; combined with Nu-way to form the largest burner group in the world.

From the 1990s to the mid-2000s, the Group continued to expand across Europe, including into the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium and the Nordic region, the USA and Canada.

2000 Sold the manufacturing businesses to Cinven, except for the energy businesses concerned with burners and boilers[10]

2005 Wolseley acquired Encon, Yorkshire-based supplier of insulation[11]

2009 as a result of the financial crisis, the Group implemented a comprehensive restructuring programme across its businesses to reduce fixed costs and close underperforming branches. During this period, the Group focused its resources, in particular, on the core plumbing and heating markets. This strategy resulted in the disposal of a number of the Group’s businesses.

2017 the Group changed its name to Ferguson plc to better align the name of the Group with its largest subsidiary in the USA.

2018 the Group exited its Nordic Operations, a building materials distributor.

2019 the Group disposed of Wasco (its Netherlands B2B business), the remaining Central European business unit.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times Nov. 1, 1963
  2. The Times, 16 December 1965
  3. The Times Dec. 12, 1968
  4. The Times Nov. 2, 1973
  5. The Times Nov. 30, 1979
  6. The Times May 19, 1982
  7. The Times Jan. 5, 2004
  8. The Times Aug. 14, 1985
  9. The Times Mar. 5, 1986
  10. The Times Apr. 26, 2000
  11. The Times, October 25, 2005
  • Birmingham’s Industrial Heritage by Ray Shill. Published by Sutton Publishing 2002. ISBN 0-7509-2593-0
  • [1] Wolseley
  • [2] Ferguson plc
  • The Times Jan. 5, 2004