South Queensferry

Division name: South Queensferry


Founded: 1966
Address: Scotstoun Avenue, South Queensferry Scotland
HP South Queensferry

Description:

In 1959, HP opened its Boeblingen, West Germany manufacturing operation in order to gain preferential tariff access to the (EEC) countries which included France, Belgium, Italy, West Germany, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. HP decided to open a UK manufacturing operation in order to gain preferential tariff access to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries of Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal and the UK (the “outer seven”). Locating in the UK also gave HP better access to Britain’s “Commonwealth Preference” partners.

HP started manufacturing in the UK in 1961 at Bedford, England. The Bedford facility grew rapidly and needed to expand in 1964. However, the national Board of Trade placed restrictions on new industrial building at Bedford due to a perceived shortage of labour in the area. HP selected South Queensferry from a list of “development areas” that offered financial incentives for new businesses. On September 22, 1966, life began for HP's Queensferry Telecom Division (QTD).

QTD was located 8 miles from Edinburgh in a 94,000 square feet building on a site of 17 acres. When the relocation from Bedford was completed, 300 people worked at the new site, including 100 transfers from Bedford. David Simpson was QTD's first managing director.

By 1968, the division employed 450 people. Over 80% of manufacturing was performed on behalf of US divisions for sales into EFTA countries including oscilloscopes, X-Y recorders, power supplies and voltmeters. The biggest selling locally developed product was a microwave link analyzer.

In 1973, the majority of EFTA countries were admitted into the EEC, resulting in a rationalization of HP’s European Manufacturing between South Queensferry and Boeblingen. Queensferry transferred systems work and medical products to Boeblingen and computers to Grenoble. Sales of HP medical products declined in Britain as they no longer carried the “Made in Britain” tag.

By 1974, the division was focussed mostly on telecommunication test equipment. Dennis Taylor was the General Manager. Locally developed products now accounting for almost 50% of shipments. Total facility size was 193,000 sq ft.

HP's Queensferry operations introduced only a few products into the computer industry. In 1979, QTD introduced 372XX modems for HP computer systems. Between 1980 and 1986, QTD introduced HP-IB extenders for use with HP computers and instruments.

Finlay MacKenzie was appointed general manager of QTD in 1982.

In 1984, the Queensferry Microwave Operation (QMO) was founded, and accounted for half of the 700 total staff at the location. QMO's first product was the 8508A vector voltmeter. Also in 1984, QTD fulfilled the largest ever HP instrument order in Europe (to British Telecom for $8.5M). By this time, 85% of QTD production was for export.

In the late 1980s, the Australian Telecom Operation, precursor to the Advanced Networks Division reported in to QTD.

In 1990, HP added another 120,000 of square footage to the facility footprint at South Queensferry. By 1991, QMO was focused primarily on developing RF test equipment for mobile and cellular radio communications systems. QMO also manufactured products for HP US divisions including the Signal Analysis Division, Network Measurement Division, Stanford Park and Spokane Division. The general manager of QMO was Don Summers.

In 1991, Chuck Acken replaced Finlay MacKenzie as general manager of QTD.

The South Queensferry business experienced tremendous success in the 1990s, riding the rapid growth of the cellular communications industry. At the time of the Agilent split in 1999, HP employed almost 2000 at the Queensferry site. Eighty percent of all the world's mobile phones were tested on the firm's equipment. Andy Belcher was the general manager of the business at the time.

Business declined significantly in the latter part of the next decade. Half of the division's 440 remaining staff were made redundant in 2009 when Agilent decided to consolidate Queensferry R&D resources into other facilities.

The South Queensferry site was vacated by Agilent in 2010 by which time employment had dropped to 200 staff. The factory buildings at the site were demolished in 2013.


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