Rentokil Initial

"Rentokil" redirects here. For the Austrian band, see Rentokill (band).
Rentokil Initial plc
Public (LSE: RTO)
Industry Business Services
Founded 1925
Headquarters Camberley, Surrey, UK
Key people
John McAdam Chairman
Andy Ransom CEO
Revenue £1,759.0 million (2015)[1]
£187.8 million (2015)[1]
£124.3 million (2015)[1]
Number of employees
circa 31,000 (2016)[2]

Rentokil Initial (LSE: RTO) is a British business services group. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.


The Company was founded in 1925 by Harold Maxwell-Lefroy, Professor of entomology at Imperial College, London, who had been investigating ways to kill Death watch beetles that had infested Westminster Hall, next door to the Houses of Parliament.[3] Lefroy and his assistant produced an anti-woodworm fluid called Ento-Kill Fluids ("ento" coming from the Latin name for insect).[3] In 1925 he tried to register the name Entokill, but due to existing trademarks, had to choose Rentokil instead, which became the name of his company, Rentokil Ltd.[3] On 14 October 1925, Lefroy was killed in a laboratory when an experiment produced poisonous fumes.[3] His assistant, Elizabeth Eades, took over the running of the company.[4]

British Ratin

British Ratin was established in 1927 as a pest control company by its Danish owner Sophus Berendsen A/S, the company used a bacillus developed by a Danish Scientist George Neumann to control rats and mice. Demand for pest control services began extending beyond rodent control to insect control. British Ratin made its first acquisition, Chelsea Insecticides Ltd in 1940. In 1957 British Ratin acquired Rentokil, the combined businesses continued to use the Rentokil name, becoming Rentokil Laboratories Ltd. in 1960.[3]

Rentokil Group plc

Rentokil Group plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1969.[3] Sophus Berendsen A/S retained a 50% holding in the group until the late 1990s. For many years Rentokil Initial achieved growth of circa 20% each year under the leadership of then CEO, Sir Clive Thompson: during this period Rentokil Initial was voted "Britain's most admired" company.[5]

Rentokil Initial plc

In 1996, the company became Rentokil Initial following the hostile takeover of its much larger competitor BET plc, the acquisition included the "Initial" laundry and washroom services (founded in 1903). The "Initial" name originated as every towel was marked with the customer's initials, which ensured that customers only received their own towels.[6]

Recent History

Thompson relinquished the CEO role to James Wilde, with Thompson taking up the Chairman role, in January 2003.[7] Thompson and Wilde both left the Company in 2004, when the leadership was transferred to Brian McGowan as Chairman (appointed in 2004) and Doug Flynn as CEO (appointed in 2005) who made a number of structural changes to the company, including the closure of the main offices at Felcourt, relocating them to Belgrave House, Victoria, Central London and City Place, Gatwick. They also presided over a succession of profit warnings, mainly as a result of the problematic integration of the 2006 acquisition of Target Express into the existing City Link business.[8]

The Rentokil Tropical Plants business, which had expanded to be an international brand through the acquisition of numerous smaller plant rental companies around the world, was rebranded as Ambius.[9]

In 2006, the Company decided to close its UK Initial laundry business; this was predominantly due to the ageing property and plant that the business operated (which had been part of the BET acquisition) and the high cost of modernisation.[10] That year, the Company also bought out Ademco Security Group and planned to expand across Asia. They sold the company back in 2010.[11]

In 2007, the Company left the FTSE100 index.[12]

Rentokil strengthened its foothold in the U.S. residential pest control market in 2006 when it acquired the Reading, Pennsylvania-based J.C. Ehrlich Co, Inc., the fourth largest and largest privately held pest control company in the US.[13] In 2007, Rentokil sold the Initial Fire, Electronic Security and manned guarding businesses – previously known as Shorrock – to United Technologies Corporation.[14] However, in 2010, Rentokil Initial acquired Knightsbridge Guarding Ltd and Perception LLP to re-enter the manned security / reception staffing business, to compliment the existing cleaning, washroom, Ambius and pest control businesses as an integrated solution.[15]

In March 2008 the company came under the leadership of Chairman John McAdam and CEO Alan Brown, who had respectively served as CEO and CFO at ICI: the pair are famous for the breakup and sale of ICI to Akzo Nobel.[8]

In February 2011, the Company acquired the Fumigation & Pest Control, Water Treatment & Hygiene and Fire Safety & Prevention businesses of Santia, formerly Connaught plc, for £5.6m.[16]

In 2012, Rentokil acquired Western Exterminator Company, for USD99.6M, extending its services to the East coast of the USA, making Rentokil the third largest pest control company in the USA.[17]

The City Link division had continued to be loss making, and although losses had reduced following major management / structural changes, the company was disposed of in April 2013, to Better Capital plc for £1.[18]

On 1 August 2013, the Company announced that CEO Alan Brown would be stepping down and would be replaced by Andy Ransom on 1 October. Andy Ransom had previously been MD of the Company's West region.[19]

On 28 February 2014, the company sold its facilities management business for £250m to Interserve.[20]


The company's divisions operate under three global brands: Rentokil, Initial and Ambius.

Additionally, the company continues to operate local brands under the names of acquired businesses which have a familiar brand name in their markets, such as Dezinfa in Lithuania, Calmic in Asia and JC Ehrlich / Western Exterminator[17] / Steritech in the USA.

In the US, Rentokil and Steritech are now one company, Rentokil Steritech.


  1. 1 2 3 "Preliminary Results 2015" (PDF). Rentokil Initial. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  2. "Careers - Rentokil Initial - Rentokil Initial". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Our History". Rentokil Initial. 1962-01-01. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  4. "City focus: Rentokil hit by dying sales". This ismoney. 14 December 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  5. "CV - Sir Clive Thompson". BBC. 21 July 1998. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  6. "Rumours of Rentokil bid boost BET". The Independent. 15 February 1996. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  7. "Rentokil ousts second boss in two months". The Telegraph. 28 July 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  8. 1 2 Macalister, Terry (21 March 2008). "Rentokil rids itself of bosses and calls in ICI crew". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  9. "Rentokil tropical plant unit blooms into Ambius". Bloomberg. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  10. Friday 3rd February 2006 14:07 (2006-02-03). "Rentokil's laundry shut-down may leave clients high and dry". Caterer and Hotelkeeper. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  11. Koh, Bryan. "Turning a Childhood Passion into Reality." The Business Times, 27 March 2012.
  12. "Rentokil To Leave FTSE 100, Aggreko To Join FTSE 100 Rentokil Initial RTO". Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  13. "Rentokil Buys Bug Killer Ehrlich to Add Scale in U.S.". Bloomberg. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  14. "UTC to buy Rentokil security unit for $1.2 bln". Reuters. 30 March 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  15. "Rentokil cost-cutting drives 39% profits rise". The Guardian. 30 July 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  16. Rentokil Initial has bought the environmental services division of Santia Group from the administrators of Connaught Construction Index, 15 February 2011
  17. 1 2 "Rentokil Acquires Western Exterminator". PCT online. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  18. "Rentokil Initial sells City Link to Jon Moulton's buyout group". 29 April 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  19. "Rentokil Initial names Andy Ransom as new CEO | 1 August 2013". Stock Market Wire. 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  20. "Rentokil Initial sells facilities business to focus on rat-catching". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 March 2014.

External links

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