Our History

The Group has a history dating back over 150 years to the family enterprise of Thomas James Smith who opened a small pharmacy in Hull, England in 1856. On his death in 1896, his nephew Horatio Nelson Smith took over the management of the business.

Thomas James Smith black and white photograph
Image: Thomas James Smith

A few days after the declaration of World War 1 in 1914, Horatio Nelson Smith (the nephew of the company founder T. J Smith) met with an envoy of the French President in London. The company was awarded a contract to supply £350,000 of surgical and field dressings, to be delivered in five months.

By the late 1990s, Smith & Nephew had expanded into being a diverse healthcare conglomerate with operations across the globe, including various medical devices, personal care products and traditional and advanced woundcare treatments. In 1998, Smith & Nephew announced a major restructuring to focus management attention and investment on three business units — wound management, endoscopy and orthopaedics— which offered high growth and margin opportunities.

Smith & Nephew was incorporated and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1937 and in 1999 the Group was also listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2001, Smith & Nephew became a constituent member of the FTSE-100 index in the UK. This means that Smith & Nephew is included in the top 100 companies traded on the London Stock Exchange measured in terms of market capitalisation.

Today, Smith & Nephew is a public limited company incorporated and headquartered in the UK and doing business in many countries around the world.

BBC "World War 1 At Home"

BBC World War 1 at Home website

Visit the BBC World War 1 At Home website to find out more about how we have our roots firmly tied to the events of WW1, and how we supplied field dressing supplies to troops.

Visitors from inside the UK can also listen to the accompanying radio piece broadcast on BBC radio.

Read & Listen

Where we operate

We have around 14,000 employees and a presence in more than 90 countries

Where