The Years of Decline

The demolition of the Pye Telecom Building in St Andrews Road, Cambridge

What Happened?

By 1977 Pye Consumer Sales and Marketing in Cambridge was closed down, and activities moved to Philips UK Sales and Marketing in Croydon.

Philips also decided it didn't want to continue to own all the myriad of smaller Pye component companies and so in 1980 Cambridge Electronic Industries (CEI) was formed.

In 1981 CEI was floated on the Stock Market with the Financial Times somewhat sarcastic headline: -

“ Cambridge Electronics Industries – a great opportunity to obtain shares in Silicon Fen or Philips spitting out the pips?”

By 1992, having sold its electronics division, CEI was renamed as Graseby plc, later to be acquired by Smiths plc. Subsequently Thermo Electron acquired an interest in some parts of Smiths.

It is important to note that today's Cambridge Electronic Industries is a completely separate, unconnected and independent company from the CEI formed in 1981 by Philips that is part of the Pye Story.

The current Cambridge Electronic Industries Ltd was formed in 1998 by the amalgamation of two companies dating back to 1983. Based in Waterbeach, Cambridge, it is a global design and manufacturing business for various electronic connectors and components and is in private ownership.

In 1982 Lowestoft TV production was transferred to Philips in Croydon and the site sold to Sanyo who continued to make TVs there. However in 2009 Sanyo closed the site.

The Pye Lowestoft TV factory

The Sanyo Lowestoft TV factory after closure in 2009

The Pye "Wavy Roof" Building in St Andrews Road Cambridge (looking east)

Now the Sepura "Wavy Roof Building" (looking west)

By 1986 all Pye & Philips radio communications companies had merged into Philips Radio Communications Systems (PRCS), with 4500 employees. Sales were transferred to Philips National Sales organisations.

In 1996 PRCS was sold to a private equity group Cinven and renamed Simoco International Ltd.

By 2002 the Simoco group had been broken up and companies sold individually. In the UK two survived, namely

Sepura PLC, Cambridge - digital Tetra portable radio

Team Telecom, Derby - analogue radio systems

The scientific instrument businesses of Pye fared little better when in 1991 Pye Unicam was acquired by ATI (Analytical Technologies Incorporated), a US venture capital company, and became ATI Unicam.

In 1995 ATI itself was acquired by Thermo Electron Corporation (now ThermoFisher) and by 2013 Thermo had announced the closure of the last remaining ex-Unicam business in Cambridge and transferred it to Germany and China. In 2014 the last Unicam site in Cambridge was closed.

The last "Pye Unicam" site in Mercers Row, Cambridge closed in 2014

The majority of the major sites in St Andrews Road, York Street, Cromwell Road and others had been demolished and sold for housing development.

Pye Telecom building at St Andrews Road before, during and after its re-development.

The Pye Unicam site at York Street and the Pye Business Systems site at Cromwell Road after their respective re-developments for housing.