Reed Elsevier has a long and proud heritage stretching back to the late 19th century and to the pioneering work of two industrialists, one English and one Dutch.
Albert E Reed laid the foundations of what was to become Reed International PLC, when in 1894 he set up a newsprint manufacturing plant at Tovil Mill in Kent, England. In 1903 the business become a public company under his own name. Through numerous acquisitions and mergers the company expanded into a wide variety of business activities ranging from paper and packaging, manufacture of building and decorative products and the publishing of newspapers, books and magazines. Reed International subsequently reorganised its portfolio in order to concentrate on its publishing and information businesses, disposing of its last manufacturing operations during 1987/88.
Jacobus George Robbers laid the foundations of what was to become Elsevier NV, when in 1880 a number of established Dutch publishers and booksellers pooled their interests. The company was named Elsevier after a 16th Century family of booksellers and printers who had, among other things, published the works of the Dutch philosopher, Erasmus. After the Second World War the company diversified and achieved considerable growth as a publisher of scientific journals. In the 1970’s Elsevier acquired major interests in Dutch national newspapers and commercial printing activities. During the 1980’s Elsevier’s portfolio was reorganised in order to concentrate on professional and business publishing activities, resulting in the disposal of its commercial printing and trade book publishing operations.
In 1993 Reed International PLC (now renamed Reed Elsevier PLC) and Elsevier NV (now renamed Reed Elsevier NV) contributed their respective businesses to form Reed Elsevier. The combined businesses operate through two jointly owned companies: Reed Elsevier Group plc (which owns the publishing and information businesses); and Elsevier Reed Finance BV (which owns the financing activities).