Hotpoint at 100: History of Peterborough’s hottest company

Staff celebrate Hotpoint's centenary. Photo supplied
Staff celebrate Hotpoint's centenary. Photo supplied
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WHEN city residents go to use their Hotpoint appliances, how many know that, as well as being 100 years old, one of the UK’s best known brands is based right here in Peterborough?

CARLY LEWTHWAITE found out more about what goes on behind those famous blue gates!

HOTPOINT was founded in 1911 as the ‘Hotpoint Electric Heating Company’, with its first product being an electric iron which, as the name suggests, had a hot point! In the 1920s,

Hotpoint entered the UK market and launched its first ever washing machine, perfect timing for women who had just gained the vote (in 1918) and were expecting help with the daily chores.

More than 800 people are employed at the Morley Way site in Peterborough, managing the operations not only for Hotpoint, but also for the Indesit brand, both of which are now part of Indesit Company UK Ltd.

There have been various types of manufacturing on the Morley Way site over the years. Initially used by the London Brick Company for brick making, in 1905 a mill was built on the site that, during the First World War, was used to make flax for uniforms and fabric to cover aircraft.

During the Second World War, the site continued to play an important role, making wings for Wellington bombers.

The first domestic appliances rolled off the production line in 1945 – washing machines, irons, water heaters and fridges for the Government’s post-war housing scheme.

Over the next 60 years, the site continued to make washing machines and fridges to lighten the load for Britain’s busy households.

Today, the site is home to Indesit Company’s head office, contact centre, logistics and returns operations. There is also a Factory Graded Centre selling returned, repaired appliances to the public and an impressive Customer Centre fitted with working appliances used for national and retailer training.

John Sharman is the financial controller for the returns and supply chain and has worked at Hotpoint since 1968.

He said: “I’ve spent my entire career at Hotpoint, I started as a commercial apprentice and am now the financial controller for the returns and supply chain.

“There are so many moments that stand out for me but the highlight is undoubtedly meeting my wife, Lynne, in 1971, who worked in the accounts department for a short while.

“Forty years later we’re happy married and have a family which consists of four horses, four dogs, one cat, two pigeons and pond full of fish!”

A popular brand, a Hotpoint appliance is sold every 5.5 seconds, ranging from cookers and washing machines to irons and dishwashers. Today, 60 per cent of homes have at least one Hotpoint appliance.

Hotpoint say they have always had a strong focus on innovation and developing new technologies and appliances that reflect the way we live our lives – from the top-loading washing machine of the 1930s and the iconic Ice Diamond refrigerator of the 60s, through to the Quadrio fridge freezer, Aqualtis washing machines and Openspace oven that we see today.

Liz Turner, claims manager from 1970-1972 and 1988 to present says she always makes her way back to the company.

She said: “I’ve worked at Hotpoint on three separate occasions; I left because of family commitments and moving abroad but I always found my way back.

“I started in 1970 and after moving to Germany and taking a few years out to have my three beautiful children, I returned for a short time in 1971 and came back for good in 1988.”

Liz has been with Hotpoint since she was 19 years old, and says she is looking forward to seeing what the company has in store for the future.

She said: “I started at 19 as an assistant to a senior buyer. I’ve had various jobs along the way and am now the claims manager. As you would expect, a lot has changed over the past 25 years but there is a reason I always returned to Hotpoint.

“The sense of camaraderie amongst the team is second to none, there is a strong work ethic but we do a lot of social things together including a trip to France a few weeks ago.

“I‘m proud to be part of the Hotpoint team as the brand celebrates its hundredth year and am looking forward to seeing what innovations are in store in years to come.”

The impressive Morley Road site also houses the company’s head office, including finance, legal, facilities management, human resources, training, marketing and the commercial team.

Someone who has fond memories of the Morley Way site is event manager Jayson Weston, who has worked at Hotpoint since 1989.

He said: “I started back in 1989 as a cab builder, it’s a very different role to what I do now as a senior events manager. I organise the trade and consumer shows, product launches, hospitality and incentives for the company.

“Recently I organised a launch for a new our built-in product range in Rome. There is so much variety in my role, you can never get bored.

“I think my most memorable moment was when the Perkins Diesel factory blew up next door and shook all the buildings. We thought there had been an earthquake as the roof had shook and jumped up and all our cars were damaged from the debris.”

These days it isn’t just cars that would have been showered with dust and debris!

Indesit is the only white goods manufacturer in the UK with its own logistics function, otherwise known as transport and delivery.

Every year, their home delivery fleet of 120 lorries covers an incredible 1.4 million miles a year – that’s enough to get you to the moon and back nearly 10 times, or 189 times around the Earth – and it’s all managed from right here in Peterborough.

The logistics team plans and schedules all the deliveries that are made, working closely with the company’s central warehouse in Raunds, Northamptonshire, where the stock is loaded onto lorries for delivery to retailers and consumers’ homes across the UK.

Indesit Company’s logistics team has recently been named Business Recycler of the Year at the 2011 National Recycling Awards, recognising an environmental policy that saw them collect 100,000 old appliances from consumers’ homes for recycling in the last year alone.

Any appliances that are damaged come back to the returns department in Peterborough. Here, the machines are examined to see if they can be repaired and more than 85 per cent of appliances are offered for resale as ‘graded products’, either direct to consumers through the company’s on-site Factory Graded Centre, or through trade channels to small independent retailers and distributors.

Located at the entrance to the Morley Way site, the Factory Graded Centre sells discounted returned appliances from the Indesit and Hotpoint brands that have been fully reworked and tested, and come with a full manufacturer’s warranty. The products may have some minor cosmetic damage, usually confined to the top and sides.

Most of the centre’s customers are from the Peterborough area, although people come from as far afield as London and the East Midlands to take advantage of the wide range of products.

The centre’s retail sales manager Jayne Tinkler said: “We’ve had such a terrific response to the centre. People are bowled over with the quality of these appliances and also by the friendly and knowledgeable service our staff are able to provide.

“Washing machines and refrigeration are our most popular products and we’re currently doing a brisk trade in dryers. We’re also looking forward to the run up to Christmas when cookers are the big sellers”.

The Centre is open Monday to Friday from 11am to 4pm and Saturday from 9am to 2.30pm.