Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 38, Number 25. 2nd October 1975
Simpson Pope Industries
Simpson Pope Industries
Simpson Pope Industries is one of the most important electrical home appliance industries in New Zealand. It is half owned by Simpson Pope Industries of Australia.
Simpson Pope was originally a wholly New Zealand owned company. Before 1966 it was known as NR Cunningham Ltd., and employed a staff of 250. Cunninghams made fridges, freezers, clothes driers and washing machines. This company was established in 1928. In 1957 a marketing company, now called HMV/Norge Appliances (Marketing) Ltd., was set up. It was also owned by the Cunningham family.
In a series of most complicated take-overs, Cunninghams became a foreign controlled firm. In 1966 Cunningham Industries, the largest shareholder in NR Cunningham Ltd., registered a new company, Cunningham EMI Group Ltd. This company took-over all the manufacturing activities of NR Cunningham Ltd. In 1971 NR Cunningham Ltd. became HMV-Norge Manufacturing Ltd. This company was then sold to EMI. By 1973 it had changed its name to Columbus Appliances (1973) Ltd. and ceased to carry out any business.
Cunningham EMI Group Ltd. was jointly owned by the Cunningham family concern (Cunningham Industries Ltd.) and HMV (NZ) Ltd., a subsidiary of the huge UK multinational corporation EMI' In 1971 Cunninghams sold their share to Green and Hall Ltd. To this day Green and Hall Ltd. own half of what has since become Simpson Pope Industries Ltd. Green is Chairman and Managing Director of the company.
Green and Hall Ltd., is owned by W. Green and A. Hall and their respective wives. The firm used to own half of EMI Electronics Ltd., (with what is now EMI (NZ) Ltd. owning the other half) until 1972. This share was eventually sold to its partner, which was formerly known as HMV (NZ) Ltd. In 1973 HMV (NZ) Ltd., or EMI (NZ) Ltd., as it is now called, sold its shares in Cunningham EMI Group to Simpson Pope Industries of Australia.
"Junior female radio assemblers doing equal work were paid $22 a week (net) in 1974."
These complicated take-overs and name changes have resulted in the intrusion of foreign capital into one of the largest employers in the Wairarapa. Yet this foreign capital has added little to the industry concerned, its employees' well-being or the benefit of consumers of their products in New Zealand.
Green and Hall Ltd. occupy a vital place in the New Zealand electrical home appliance field. Green and Hall Ltd. are large shareholders in Bell Radio and Television Holdings Ltd., A. Hall being on the Board of Directors of this company. They are also involved in Consolidated Electronic Industries Ltd. with Bell and Atlas Majestic Holdings Ltd. Simpson Pope gets radio parts from and makes radios for Consolidated Electronics Ltd.
As has been shown Green and Hall Ltd. have a history of involvement with EMI (NZ) Ltd. Simpson Pope and EMI still operate out of the same building in Porirua, and Green and Hall Ltd. still own EMI's Elsdon factory. The directors of most of New Zealand's other large, especially foreign owned, electrical appliance manufacturers are linked with EMI (NZ) by the fact that their directors sit on common boards. These include Zip Holdings (English), Phillips Electrical Industries (Dutch) HW Clarke (NZ) Ltd. and Odlins. To complete the picture of the foreign connection, Simpson Pope make GM home freezers under contract in their Masterton factory.
These connections leave very few of the large industries in home appliance field outside the orbit of Simpson Pope EMI and Zip Holdings, some of the largest foreign owned electrical appliance firms in New Zealand. Just Autocrat, Electric Refrigeration Fisher and Paykel, Agnew Refrigeration and Ralta and Sunbeam remain outside. Apart from the last two, even all the others have directors who sit on boards of companies with each other and so are connected.
The take-over of Cunninghams by foreign interests has been detrimental to the people of New Zealand. It has helped consolidate the home appliance industry into what seems to be almost one huge interconnected monster. This can only have a bad effect on prices, making it possible for these to be hoisted to gain super profits, most of which are destined to go to overseas shareholders.
The take-over of Cunninghams has not been to the benefit of Simpson Pope employees. They pay the most miserable rates possible. "Junior" female radio assemblers doing equal work were paid about $22 in 1974, for example. The workers making GM washing machines are getting a little over $65. These machines were originally made in GM's Petone plant where the workers receive approximately $80. Simpson Pope has managed to make money for themselves (half of which goes to Australia) and money for GM by ensuring that their employees get as little as possible.
For New Zealanders who buy home appliances, for workers who try to gain a living from working in Simpson Pope, the advent of foreign capital and the tie up of these concerns has strengthened the employers when they sell their products and when they determine what wages will be paid.page break