Bisley has always embraced change. For over 80 years, we’ve answered the needs of our times with practical solutions that make a positive difference.

We responded to the arrival of the first motor cars by offering bodywork repair. When war came, we produced jerry cans. Today, we combine this spirit of innovation with a collective knowledge that can only come from experience. While the world may evolve, our passion for design and care for our people never changes. This is who we are.

  • 1930s
  • 1940s
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s
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1930s

1931
The origins of Bisley go back to 1931. Freddy Brown, a panel beater working with luxury cars, starts his one-man business repairing damaged cars in a garage in St John's, Woking, Surrey.
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1940s

1941
The company moves to Bisley, Surrey. There, it builds a 400 square metre manufacturing facility and undertakes various wartime defence contracts. Bisley designs and manufactures the first containers to be dropped by parachute, which are widely used by airborne forces throughout the war. For this work it receives several commendations from the Ministry of Defence.
1945
At the end of the war, Bisley resumes car repairs, but now has a manufacturing capability for which there’s no demand.
1946
A London wholesaler, Standard Office Supplies, shows Freddy Brown a steel waste paper bin. He’s told that if he can meet the necessary price and delivery, an order for 24 is his. The rest, as they say, is history.
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1950s

1958
Designed by Freddy and inspired by letter trays, the MultiDrawer is born. Arguably our best known and most loved product, it has been helping people organise their stationary, papers, coin collections and more, ever since. More than two million of the diminutive cabinets have been sold across the world, cementing its status as a classic – and with many of the very first models still in use today.
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1960s

1960
Freddy Brown's son, Tony, the present Chairman, joins Bisley in 1960. At this time the business has a turnover of £95,000 per annum and employs 28 people.
1961
The legal status of the company changes from sole trader to private limited company. The shareholding is divided between Freddy Brown, his wife and his five children.
1968
At the age of 67, Freddy Brown decides to retire and puts the business up for sale. Tony Brown decides to buy the company. This was probably the first management buyout, so new legal complications mean the deal takes eighteen months to implement. The company organising the buy-out is called ICFC, which later becomes 3i. Eventually, the sale goes through and the entire family is bought out. Initially, the new shareholders are Tony, his children and, as a minority shareholder, 3i. 3i remains a minority shareholder until 2013.
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1970s

1970
On 10 March, Tony Brown takes proud ownership of the business. Bisley has sales totalling £370,000 per year and employs 45 people.
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1980s

1980
Bisley launches its first filing cabinet.
1988
To meet expanding demand, Bisley purchases a 17-acre site in Newport, South Wales.
1989
Bisley launches its first side-opening tambour.
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1990s

1990
Bisley launches its subsidiary businesses in France and the Netherlands.
1991
Bisley launches the Universal Pedestal.
1992
The Newport site allows Bisley to concentrate on export markets. Bisley is also granted a prestigious Queen's Award for Export Achievement.
1993
Tony is honoured with an OBE for his outstanding contribution to the British Steel Industry.
1996
Bisley launches the LateralFile storage system.
1997
Bisley is granted a second Queen’s Award for Export Achievement, giving it a unique status in the office furniture industry.
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2000s

2004
Bisley establishes its German subsidiary.
2009
Bisley continues its expansion into overseas markets, establishing a subsidiary in Ireland.
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2010s

2010
Bisley establishes its subsidiary business in Spain.
2012
Bisley consolidates all its manufacturing onto a single site, achieved by acquiring an extra 20,000 square metres in Newport. It also expands beyond Europe, establishing a business in Dubai.
2013
Bisley acquires its North American subsidiary. The business now has presence in eight countries across three continents. This is also the year the business launches Be by Bisley, a ground-breaking approach to bespoke, integrated storage.
2015
In November, Bisley is awarded the Manufacturing Guild Mark by the Furniture Makers’ Company. This prestigious award recognises excellence in design, sustainability and production. It assures all of Bisley’s customers that the furniture they are buying is made with care, and that Bisley adheres to the highest standards throughout its operations.
2016
Bisley purchases a specialist supplier of fitted furniture for the Education market and in the following year, makes the additional investment to equip 80,000 square feet of factory. As a result, Bisley gains the capability to create bespoke panel-based wooden products, and wooden components to complement and enhance its steel products. This investment allows Bisley to expand its penetration into other markets including Healthcare, Residential, Hospitality and Office.
2017
In May, the Furniture Makers’ Company recognises Bisley’s MultiDrawer with a Design Guild Mark, which acknowledges the highest standards of furniture design in volume production by British designers. This prestigious accolade is testament to the MultiDrawer’s enduring appeal and iconic status, sixty years on.

There’s no fast track to mastering your craft. It takes time. At Bisley, we’ve been refining our expertise over decades – and the results are visible in everything we create, right down to the smallest fitting.

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