Clifford Thames History

Clifford Thames reached a notable milestone in 2013 of 65 years in business.

Today CT provides an industry leading range of data based aftermarket services to the automotive industry, operating on a global basis with over 400 employees in 10 countries spanning Europe, Asia Pacific and North American markets.

The business of today is a far cry from the early days of a company which started out as a printer of local newspapers. History shows how CT has always been ready to embrace change and take opportunities to invest in the future.


W F Clifford Printing Company was formed in April 1948 and published two local newspapers, the Stoke Newington and Hackney Observer and the Wood Green Observer.

A third title was added in 1954 and newspapers for a while continued to represent virtually 100 per cent of the business. However, as sales and advertising revenues fell, the balance changed in favour of print. The decision was made to let the papers go and they were sold off in October 1957.


Investment was made in new print machinery and a larger site was leased but by 1962 Clifford Thames had, once again, outgrown its premises. At the time grants were available for companies relocating out of London. A newly built Industrial Estate in Hutton near Brentwood fitted the bill and a site was acquired on the estate.

The 1960s and 70s were a period of expansion for the Group in Hutton as the business grew. Companies were acquired and investment continued to be made in the latest print technology.

The first early contacts between Clifford Thames and Ford Motor Company were made around this time with CT quickly establishing a reputation as a supplier who could be totally relied upon. As a result opportunities were presented to quote for, and explore, projects outside the normal printing brief.

Data Processing

The most significant change in the development of Clifford Thames took place in July 1978 with the setting up of Clifford Data Processing Limited, a first departure from mainstream printing into the fledgling computer age.

This came about when Ford approached Clifford Thames to help with the data capture of warranty claims which were arriving from all over the country. Data capture was very much a cottage industry but Clifford Thames was seen as having the management skills to handle this new business. It was the early days of a new direction for the company.

Sites on the Hutton estate were developed throughout the 1980s with a new Group HQ and print works and a premises for the expanding Data Management and Technical Writing divisions.

Another significant move was the acquisition of a print business in West Germany in July 1979 giving CT a base in Europe.

From this early foray overseas CT has established a global network of offices around the world in Copenhagen 1996, Melbourne 1997, Detroit 1999, Bonn 2001, Krakow 2006 and Chennai 2009 which today serve a client base of major automotive manufacturers.

After 38 years on the Hutton Industrial Estate Clifford Thames relocated to today’s prestigious Group HQ at Springfield Lyons House in February 2001,

Expansion of the Data Management side of the business continued as print operations declined. The print elements of the business in the UK and Germany were finally sold in 2001.

After 65 years in business CT has moved with the times from origins as a local newspaper printer to a company leading the way in data based aftermarket services for the global automotive industry. Now it’s all to do with the future!

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