By the late 70s the company was set to move premises again. With the addition of further product ranges, along with existing production lines, it was necessary for FKI to have more space to house its growing workforce. In 1977 the business relocated to a former textile mill, based in the nearby Town of Sowerby Bridge, in Halifax.  The 100,000 square foot premises meant that space was no longer at a premium and the company could continue to work on a long list of new and established products.

It wasn’t long before the business became almost as well-known in the caravan and commercial vehicle market, as it was in the street lighting sector. This was evident in 1978 with the acquisition of Transtrip, a manufacturer of low voltage fluorescent camping and caravan lighting, based in Cirencester. The business was relocated to the Sowerby Bridge premises and products developed under the FKI name.

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The Gratrix Lane site

The market leader

FKI was a market leader and as a result floated on the stock market in 1982, helping to further build its profle and increase fnancial opportunities. In this time, the company continued to produce street lighting products under the Zodion name, differentiating the successful lighting range from other FKI brand products.

Not a company to stagnate, FKI was ready for another acquisition in 1984. Buying ENM (English Numbering Machines) from Enfeld and bringing the business to Sowerby Bridge, another product was added to its growing list, this time in the form of counting devices and hand numbering machines.

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The hand tally machine

Leisure Vehicle lighting

The company’s increasingly popular caravan and commercial vehicle lighting range, previously known as IRL and (earlier) Transtrip, also saw a change in the mid-80s. It was decided to re-engineer and re-brand fluorescent lighting and replace the original models with a new modern range called Lumo, which was much more attractive to the key markets. Lumo Lighting continues to function to this day and remains a market leader in the design and development of caravan lighting products.


The Lumo Lighting logo

In 1986 this was followed by a major acquisition with Cableform, suppliers of cable harnesses to the fork lift truck industry. Cableform was taken over by FKI incorporating Cableform Inc USA, where the new name of FKI Cableform was established. In the same year the company reached a record high in terms of staff levels, employing about 750 people at its spacious Sowerby Bridge Mill; reinforcing the company’s growing success and continuous progression.

A new name

For almost two decades, FKI Cableform remained at the Gratrix Road Mill and continued to innovate in the street lighting industry. By the 90s the company was established as a key manufacturer in this feld and developed a number of pioneering products, including revolutionary part-night photocells.

In 1997 Cableform Ltd was acquired by Hallmark Industries, as part of a Group purchase from Graystone Plc. This had little to no effect on the nature of the products produced and the company’s trading name, but marked the beginning of a steadier and much more focussed production line with fewer ranges to manufacture.

By 1998 FKI Cableform was producing about 3,000 Zodion SS5 units per week, a product that saw high demand thanks to its minimal power consumption characteristics that attracted low tariffs – a huge selling point for local authorities. The entire Zodion range had about 200 model varieties which covered a number of different wattage lanterns for most outdoor requirements, from large stretches of motorways, to public parks. 

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An archive image of the SS5

An account from 1998 states that by the 1990’s 4.5 million street lighting columns had individual switching devices installed, which highlights how much the market had grown since the 1960s, when the technology was in its infancy. As cars became increasingly popular and continue to do so, along with a rapidly growing population, there were more people on roads and streets than ever before – this further fuelled the demand for street and road lighting across the world.

The new millenium brought with it a number of challenges and opportunities for the company to embrace, find out how this new era caused the company to take a new approach, in part five...