London-based Johnson Matthey, one of the longest trading businesses in the FTSE 100 Index, celebrates its 200th birthday in 2017. Founded by Percival Norton Johnson in 1817 as a gold assaying business and joined by George Matthey as an apprentice in 1838, Johnson Matthey’s earliest accomplishments included the use of its platinum and iridium alloys to create the benchmark metre and kilogramme, as well as the standard for imperial measurements.
The company now has operations on all continents and reports annual sales of more than £3 billion, employing approximately 13,000 people worldwide. With a strong investment portfolio, Johnson Matthey states that one pound in every twenty generated is reinvested in research and development and reported a year-end total of £188 million invested in projects around the world in 2016.
More than 90% of the company’s sales come from the environmental and health sectors. Currently, technological development at Johnson Matthey is focused on air quality improvement– with one-third of all new cars being fitted with Johnson Matthey catalysts- battery technology for the automotive industry and the optimisation of world-scale processes used to produce chemical intermediates. The company also manufactures products for the pharmaceutical and medical industries, such as precious metal and other metal components for medical implants and surgical devices.
Among Johnson Matthey’s historic achievements are the development of technology integral to the Apollo and Space Shuttle programmes’ fuel cell systems, platinum-based active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for use in anticancer treatments and the development of Bitrex, a safety product added to harmful substances to give a bitter taste, preventing children and pets from swallowing them.
Robert MacLeod, Chief Executive of Johnson Matthey, stated, “This is a very special year for all of us at Johnson Matthey as we celebrate our 200th anniversary. This extraordinary achievement belongs to my colleagues worldwide and to our predecessors… Much of the important work that we do is not visible to the naked eye but the impact of our science is global and profound. This year we renew our mission to make the world a cleaner and healthier place for everyone.”