The Fenner Group was founded in 1861 by Joseph Henry Fenner and located at 21½ Bishop Lane in Hull, England. Subsequently, the Company moved to Marfleet, at that time a small village outside Hull.
The early products manufactured were leather belting for use in power transmission, lacing and hoses, including fire hoses. By the 1890s, the Company was exporting its products widely across Europe and into India and the Far East.
In 1913, immediately prior to the First World War, export markets accounted for over 70 per cent of sales. The loss of many of these markets during the war forced the Company to focus on domestic opportunities after the war was over. In the 1920s and 1930s, Fenner made many technological developments and, during this period, Fenner first established its technical leadership in textiles, particularly as reinforcements for rubber products.
In 1937, Fenner became a Public Company with share capital of £250,000, and has been quoted on the London Stock Exchange ever since.
During World War II, the Hull factory suffered substantial damage. Rebuilding commenced in 1947 and by December 1948, the factory was fully operational once more.
In response to a tragic conveyor belt fire at the Cresswell Colliery in 1950, in which 80 miners died mainly from toxic fumes, the National Coal Board asked Fenner, because of its expertise in reinforced polymers, to develop a fire resistant belt. That belt and its successor products became, and continue to be, a world standard in underground coal mining. The 1950s also saw Fenner expand on a worldwide basis establishing companies in Australia, South Africa and India. This was followed by the Group's first acquisition in the USA in 1970.
Alongside its increasing global reputation in conveyor belting, Fenner continued to develop product areas which made use of its knowledge of polymeric materials together with its product, application and manufacturing expertise; these areas included power transmission which remains an important part of Fenner Drives and Fenner Precision.
The 1990s were a decade of transformation for Fenner. Major restructuring took place, with a series of acquisitions and disposals being made. By the end of the decade, the Company had transformed from an industrial conglomerate into a group with two distinct divisions, each focused on products made from reinforced polymers and well positioned to make further strategic progress.
After 2000, Fenner’s conveyor belting businesses saw continued growth through acquisition and organically. New plants have been constructed, most particularly to serve the iron ore industry in Australia, and existing plants extended and modernised. Alongside these investments, Fenner has significantly increased its conveyor service offering, most notably in North America and Australia, and has also enlarged its presence in other locations including South America, Africa and the Middle East. Today, Fenner’s conveyor business, now known as Engineered Conveyor Solutions, is a world leader in heavyweight conveyor belting.
Fenner’s Advanced Engineered Products division has developed into a grouping of specialist polymer businesses designing and manufacturing high value-added products which provide solutions to its customers’ most challenging engineering problems. AEP has achieved significant growth organically and through acquisitions, including those of Wellington Holdings in 2005, which significantly increased Fenner’s presence in the oil & gas industry, and of Secant Medical LLC, which gave it an entry to the medical products industry.
With 2018 consolidated revenue in excess of £650 million and with operations spread across the world, the Fenner Group is a recognised world leader in reinforced polymer technology, committed to using its expertise to identify, design and manufacture locally-engineered and performance-critical polymer products for niche markets across a wide range of industries.
On 31 May 2018, Fenner became part of the Michelin group of companies, headquartered in Clermont-Ferrand, France. The terms of the acquisition valued Fenner at some £1.3 billion. It is intended that the combination of Michelin and Fenner will enable the enlarged Michelin group to provide a comprehensive offering to mining clients, will provide a platform to further expand Michelin's polymer activities and strengthen Michelin's materials division.
Fenner PLC changed its name to Fenner Group Holdings Limited in December 2018.