• John Menzies PLC
  • Menzies Aviation

Our History

From one man in one city to more than 25,000 people in 31 countries, John Menzies has come a long way.

1833
We were the first in Edinburgh to sell 'The Scotsman' over the counter.

1834-44
John Menzies receives exclusive rights in the east of Scotland to Charles Dickens' first novel Pickwick Papers.

1850
Turnover reached £8,148 - approx £600,000 in today's money.

1867
Four long-serving employees are taken into partnership by the founder to form John Menzies & Company, beginning a Menzies tradition of going from shop floor to boardroom which continues to this day.

1910
Menzies buys its first petrol driven car for 383 pounds, 17 shillings and sixpence. The distribution fleet becomes fully motorised 10 years later with the sale of our last remaining horse and van.

1914-1918
Like all other major organisations Menzies lost key personnel in the First World War. One out of every six employees who volunteered for active service never returned. After Charles T Menzies saw action in Flanders in 1916 he was dubbed 'Colonel Charles’.

1928
A pioneering non-contributory staff pension scheme is introduced - the brainchild of John F Menzies and one of the first of its kind in the UK.

1939
By the time World War II broke out, all the bookstall leases except those in Aberdeen had been arranged on a percentage basis. In that City Menzies took a twelve-year lease at £900 a year.

1940
John F. Menzies, Col. Menzies' son and father of the present chairman, dies.

1941
Partick Bookstall and Greenock Branch are destroyed in air raids.

1943
Col. Charles Menzies dies and his widow, Helen Frances Menzies, is appointed chairman.

1948
John M. Menzies, son of John F. Menzies, joins the company. The same year sees the opening of the first airport bookstall at Edinburgh Turnhouse and the introduction of the first mobile bookstall.

1951
John M. Menzies is appointed as chairman, succeeding his grandmother.

1952
The company forms a club for long-serving employees. (In 1980 it became the 25 Club, for staff with 25 or more years' service.)

1953
The nationalisation of the railways involves reappraisal and renegotiation of bookstall franchises, although the end result is much as before, with John Menzies having 73 stalls and three kiosks in Scotland and two stalls and two kiosks in England.

1958
The company is now 125 years old. There are now 26 shops, 19 of which were acquired in the years following 1951.

1959
Menzies take over the English firm of Wymans; this involves not only a formidable wholesaling headquarters in London, but 78 shops, about 200 bookstalls throughout the provinces and the well-known stationers Smythson of Bond Street. First edition of The Chronicle, a quarterly magazine for employees.

1960
John Menzies (Holdings) Ltd. is incorporated.

1962
Shares in John Menzies (Holdings) Ltd. are offered to the public, and Horace Marshall and Son Ltd. and its subsidiaries are acquired.

1965
There are now 90 wholesale branches, 161 shops and 350 bookstalls.

1969
A comprehensive training policy is launched and the company's first Training Centre is opened at Regent Terrace, Edinburgh. Company administration is restructured to accomodate continuing expansion and development.

1970
Sales reach £50 million. Jones Yarrell & Co. Ltd., the retail news and stationery firm, joins the group.

1973
Retail Division opens its largest ever store at 107 Princes Street, Edinburgh. The executive offices of the Group directors were later located above the store.

1976
The first issue of the monthly John Menzies News, replacing The Chronicle is published. 

1980
Group total sales top the £200 million mark. Terry Blood (Records) Ltd., wholesale record and tape distributor, becomes part of the group.

1982
The Lonsdale Universal group of companies and Cambridge Jackson are acquired.

1983
John Menzies plc celebrates its 150th Anniversary.

1985
Microlink - the unique computer system developed by John Menzies Wholesale - was introduced. 

1986
Menzies has 87 branches and 13,000 customers. Newspaper volumes increase with the launch of Today , the Sunday Sport and the Independent.

1988
Menzies consolidates network to 81 branches; acquires three Independents (Gauntlet, Halstead and Porter & Tonkin) and takes over distribution of ‘The Scotsman’; all publishers move from rail to road marking an end to train packing.

National dailies are printed on New Year’s Day for the first time in 13 years and 'Hello' magazine is launched by Comag - the start of the celebrity market.

1990
Menzies consolidates network to 75 branches; acquires eight Independents - Cogan, Boyle, Aston & Taylor, Proudfoot, Gregory & Walters, Brown, Meikle of Perth and McGuiness; leads the industry in introducing barcode scanning and converts branches to powerful Sun Microsystems ‘Unix’ computers.

1995
Menzies consolidates network to 63 branches and 21,000 customers; acquires seven Independents - Foyles, McDonald, Brown, Clayfield, Morgan, Pears and Waddell; renegotiated contracts with all major publishers; and moves to new Edinburgh Park HQ.

1998
Menzies network consolidated to 35 branches; retail arm sold to WH Smith; Kardex roll-out completed; industry leading voucher scanning technology introduced and contracts signed/extended with all major distributors.

2001
Menzies network consolidated to 27 branches; Kingston, Uddingston and Blochairn are combined into Cambuslang, the first of our super-branches in the central belt of Scotland.

2002
Menzies network consolidated to 24 branches; two new central-belt super-branches, Linwood in Renfrewshire and Newbridge in Edinburgh are created.

2003
Menzies network consolidated to 22 branches; Irvine becomes a spoke of Linwood, while Dumfries becomes a spoke of Cambuslang.

2006
Menzies acquires three independents - Thomas Swift, Chester Wholesale News and North West Midland Wholesale News: enters joint venture with Easons creating EM News Distribution in Ireland. The network becomes 22 branches, plus 2 branches in the EM News Distribution network.

2007
Menzies network consolidated to 19 branches; Aberdeen and Inverness become spokes of Dundee, Stockton becomes a spoke of York.

2009
Following the collapse of Dawson News, Menzies takes on new territories in North West and South East England and opens the Maidstone branch. The network expands to 21 branches.

2010
Working from new bases in Preston and Maidstone, Menzies undertakes a major consolidation programme in North West and South East England. The network condenses to 17 branches.

2011
Menzies network consolidated to 16 branches; acquires Media On The Move and creates new division, Menzies Select, for corporate news delivery, media export and travel media businesses.

2012
Menzies Distribution is awarded a £12m five year contract from DC Thomson to distribute titles in Scotland, acquires the retail consultancy division of the Fore Partnership, which it will integrate with its own category management business D-Cipher to become part of Menzies Marketing Services and acquires Orbital Marketing Services Group for £12.6m, in a deal expanding the business into new sectors and adding further complementary services to its existing logistics and marketing services capabilities.

2014
Menzies Distribution is commended for its handling of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games logistics.

2015
Following the acquisition of AJG Parcels in mid-2015, our Inverness depot became the first example of how we plan to do business in the future. The facility operates our traditional print media pack and distribution overnight, transitioning to parcel sortation and delivery during daylight hours. Inverness distributed over 1 million parcels of print products in 2015.