The roots of the company were established as the Electric Lamp Service Company Ltd. on the 29th March 1928, on 26th Nov 1936 this company is renamed as Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd.
As of 1973 Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd. was a conglomerate, as was operating over 180 subsidiaries worldwide through its various divisions, product groups and research departments, specifically involved in - Electronics, Rentals, Lighting, Gas, Heating, Engineering, Defence, Retail - trademarks used by its operating companies included Ferguson, Goodmans, Kenwood, Rumbelows.
In 1979 the conglomerate EMI Ltd. (EMI) (with roots dating back 1897), a company with close ties due to forming joint partnerships in the past, is acquired by Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd. On the 31st Dec 1980 Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd. is renamed Thorn EMI Ltd. (re-registering as a PLC on the 5th June 1981)
Following the merger EMI Ltd.'s medical electronics business's, its substantial hotels and restaurant division were disposed of, the other businesses that formed part of its Electronics division were amalgamated with "Thorns" operations under the divisional name "Thorn". EMI Ltd. would however remain the principal (holding) company behind the worldwide music division EMI Music., which it had established 2 years earlier.
In 1986 the HMV retail operations, which consisted of 43 stores are reorganised into a separate division HMV Group, up until this point the retail chain had been overseen by EMI Records Ltd., subsidiary EMI Record (Shops) Ltd. (Formerly known as His Masters Voice (Shops) Ltd.) As of 1995 HMV Group Plc was operating 231 stores worldwide.
Key acquisitions by Thorn EMI Plc relating to the EMI music division:
- 50% of the recorded music businesses' of Chrysalis Group PLC., including - Chrysalis Records Ltd. are acquired in 1989, buying the outstanding holdings in 1991.
- SBK Entertainment World Inc. is acquired on the 2nd June 1989 (later renamed EMI Entertainment World Inc.), also acquiring the remaining 50% not already owned in SBK Records in 1991.
- Acquired Filmtrax PLC in Dec 1990.
- The holding company Virgin Records Group Ltd., including Virgin Records Ltd. and its worldwide subsidiaries are wholly acquired on 1st June 1992.
- Acquired The Sparrow Corporation, Sparrow Records, Inc. (Sparrow Records) in Oct, 1992, later acquiring Star Song Communications, Inc. ( Star Song Communications, Star Song Records, Star Song) in 1994, these operations were subsequently combined to form EMI Christian Music Group.
- On the 3rd Oct 1994 increases it's shareholding in Toshiba EMI Ltd (TOEMI) to 55%, gaining a controlling interest.
- Acquired a majority stake in Monitor Records spol. s r.o. in 1994
As of 1995 the company was basically operating as 3 principal divisions, EMI Music (which now consisted of 65 record companies and 23 music publishing companies, operating in 37 countries), Thorn (electronics) and the HMV Group (Retail).
Principal (holding) companies of Thorn EMI Plc relating to the EMI Music division (as of 1995) - included: EMI Ltd., EMI Records Ltd., EMI Music Publishing Ltd., Capitol-EMI Music, Inc., Capitol Records, Inc., EMI Entertainment World Inc., EMI France SA, EMI ITALIANA S.p.A., EMI Electrola GmbH, Thorn EMI (Australia) Ltd. - (EMI Records Division Australia), Chrysalis Records Ltd., Virgin Music Group Ltd. (corporate) - Virgin Records Ltd., Virgin Records America, Inc., Virgin Schallplatten GmbH, Groupe Virgin Disques S.A. and Toshiba EMI Ltd. (not including local subsidiaries or joint partnerships)
In 1996 the conglomerate was demerged and renamed EMI Group Plc, with EMI Music & HMV Group divisions staying under the control of this newly established (holding) company.