Quality and innovation in print

Since inception in 1879, ILFORD has been a name associated with photography. Whilst the company has evolved over the years, the drive to provide our customers with world-class products is as strong as it was over 130 years ago.

As one of the earliest adopters of digital imaging technology for the photographic and commercial wide format markets, ILFORD has been at the forefront of innovation in the industry, demonstrating the ability to design products in line with changing technologies.

Experience is paramount and ILFORD has used its knowledge to fine-tune its core competencies to excel in producing innovative products over the years.

As a result, ILFORD is one of the only companies in the world to offer its customers a ‘best in class’ solution for producing outstanding printed images and displays, regardless of their application.

Our team continues to develop technical building blocks to ensure that ILFORD can respond directly to any step change in technology.

The ILFORD name is well established in the history of imaging and today continues to be associated with cutting edge technology thanks to its strong links to the photographic and commercial wide format markets, research and development, technical know-how and manufacturing capabilities.

  • 1879
    ILFORD is founded by Alfred Hugh Harman as Britannia Works making Gelatine Dry Plates in the basement of his house.
  • 1891
    The company became known as the Britannia Works Co. Ltd.
  • 1898
    The company goes public and Alfred Harman (then aged 50) retires from active control, possibly due to ill health, but continues to provide his expertise and experience for several more years.
  • 1902
    The company is renamed to become ILFORD Limited after the town of Ilford in Essex, UK, where the company was based.
  • 1945
    The ILFORD works is hit in the “London Blitz” during WWII.
  • 1959
    ICI take control of ILFORD.
  • 1963
    Ciba AG, Switzerland, acquire shares in ILFORD beginning a commercial co-operation between Ciba and ILFORD to develop Ciba’s dye-bleach print material (for making prints directly from colour transparencies). Originally called Cilchrome (‘Cil’ derived from the names Ciba, ILFORD and Lumière) the eventual product name was Cibachrome.

    Ciba built a new plant in Marly, just outside Fribourg (home of Tellko AG) to coat Cibachrome (renamed ILFOCHROME in 1992). The old Tellko factory in the centre of Fribourg was used as the finishing department.

  • 1967
    ICI and Ciba acquire all shares in the company.
  • 1969
    Ciba acquire all ICI shares in ILFORD to become sole owner of ILFORD Limited.
  • 1970
    Ciba merges with JR Geigy to become Ciba-Geigy.
  • 1976
    The site in Ilford, Essex is closed and the Headquarters are moved to Basildon, UK
  • 1982
    Lumière, who were acquired by Ciba-Geigy in 1962, become known as ILFORD France. Lumière Imaging remains to this day a key distributor for ILFORD in France.
  • 1983
    The ILFORD UK headquarters move to Mobberley, Cheshire.
  • 1989
    ILFORD is acquired by the USA-based International Paper company, owners of graphic arts materials manufacturer Anitec.
  • 1990
    ILFORD and Anitec merge to become ILFORD Anitec.
  • 1992
    Ciba-Geigy, no longer having any stake in ILFORD, require the Cibachrome name be changed. The announcement of the name change from Cibachrome to ILFOCHROME Classic was announced by ILFORD at the 1992 PMA show in Las Vegas.
  • 1996
    The sales and admin offices move from London to Mobberley, Cheshire.
  • 1997
    International Paper sells ILFORD to Doughty Hanson & Co.
  • 1998
    ILFORD become ILFORD Imaging Ltd on 1st January under new owners Doughty Hanson & Co.

    ILFORD enter the mass inkjet consumer market with the launch of the PRINTASIA Inkjet Photo Range of papers.

  • 2000
    ILFORD launch the GALERIE Inkjet Photo Range of paper and media.
  • 2004
    ILFORD Imaging celebrate 125 years of photographic manufacturing.

    ILFORD Imaging UK Limited go into receivership.

  • 2005
    ILFORD Imaging UK are subject to a management buyout, which results in the formation of HARMAN technology Ltd in February 2005. HARMAN continue to use the ILFORD name for traditional black and white products.

    In July 2005 Oji Paper, a 130-year old company based in Tokyo, bought ILFORD Imaging Group’s Swiss operations which It produces inkjet products and high quality colour photographic products under the name ILFORD Imaging Switzerland GmbH and includes the GALERIE and Printasia ranges.

  • 2010
    In May 2010, ILFORD Imaging Switzerland GmbH are bought by Paradigm Global Partners LLP.
  • 2011
    ILFORD announce the launch of BioMedia, a range of recyclable, biodegradable and incineration-friendly commercial wide format media and pick up the SGIA Product of the Year Media-Vinyl category.

    ILFORD announce a final production run of ILFOCHROME Classic in response to declining market demand attributed to the expanding popularity of digital image making.

  • 2012
    ILFORD announce the transition of their popular GALERIE range into 5 star GALERIE Prestige as well as launch the 4 ½ star GALERIE Premium range.
  • 2013
    February – ILFORD acquires CMA Graphix and Colorportal.

    April – ILFORD Group AG acquires TECCO GmbH.

  • 2014
    May – Ilford Imaging Europe GmbH established as a joint venture between Chugai Photo Chemical Co Ltd of Tokyo, Japan and CR Kennedy & Company Pty Ltd of Melbourne, Australia. Both partners have a combined history of 146 years in the photo industry and are committed to implementing long-term strategies for growth, with respect for the history and traditions of the Ilford brand. Ilford has for 135 years represented outstanding imaging quality; this will continue well into the future.

    ILFORD would like to thank Maurice Fisher and ILFORD Photo for some of the historical information of the timeline.