Bisley has always embraced change. For over 80 years, we’ve answered the needs of our times with practical solutions that make a positive difference.

We responded to the arrival of the first motor cars by offering bodywork repair. When war came, we produced jerry cans. Today, we combine this spirit of innovation with a collective knowledge that can only come from experience. While the world may evolve, our passion for design and care for our people never changes. This is who we are.

  • 1930s
  • 1940s
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s
  • 2020s


The origins of Bisley go back to 1931. Freddy Brown, a panel beater working with luxury cars, starts his one-man business repairing damaged cars in a garage in St John's, Woking, Surrey.


The company moves to Bisley, Surrey. There, it builds a 400 square metre manufacturing facility and undertakes various wartime defence contracts. Bisley designs and manufactures the first containers to be dropped by parachute, which are widely used by airborne forces throughout the war. For this work it receives several commendations from the Ministry of Defence.
At the end of the war, Bisley resumes car repairs, but now has a manufacturing capability for which there’s no demand.
A London wholesaler, Standard Office Supplies, shows Freddy Brown a steel waste paper bin. He’s told that if he can meet the necessary price and delivery, an order for 24 is his. The rest, as they say, is history.


Designed by Freddy and inspired by letter trays, the MultiDrawer is born. Arguably our best known and most loved product, it has been helping people organise their stationery, papers, coin collections and more, ever since. More than two million of the diminutive cabinets have been sold across the world, cementing its status as a classic – and with many of the very first models still in use today.


Freddy Brown's son, Tony, the present Chairman, joins Bisley in 1960. At this time the business has a turnover of £95,000 per annum and employs 28 people.
The legal status of the company changes from sole trader to private limited company. The shareholding is divided between Freddy Brown, his wife and his five children.
At the age of 67, Freddy Brown decides to retire and puts the business up for sale. Tony Brown decides to buy the company. This was probably the first management buyout, so new legal complications mean the deal takes eighteen months to implement. The company organising the buy-out is called ICFC, which later becomes 3i. Eventually, the sale goes through and the entire family is bought out. Initially, the new shareholders are Tony, his children and, as a minority shareholder, 3i. 3i remains a minority shareholder until 2013.


On 10 March, Tony Brown takes proud ownership of the business. Bisley has sales totalling £370,000 per year and employs 45 people.


Bisley launches its first filing cabinet.
To meet expanding demand, Bisley purchases a 17-acre site in Newport, South Wales.
Bisley launches its first side-opening tambour.


Bisley launches its subsidiary businesses in France and the Netherlands.
Bisley launches the Universal Pedestal.
The Newport site allows Bisley to concentrate on export markets. Bisley is also granted a prestigious Queen's Award for Export Achievement.
Tony is honoured with an OBE for his outstanding contribution to the British Steel Industry.
Bisley launches the LateralFile storage system.
Bisley is granted a second Queen’s Award for Export Achievement, giving it a unique status in the office furniture industry.


Bisley establishes its German subsidiary.
Bisley continues its expansion into overseas markets, establishing a subsidiary in Ireland.


Bisley establishes its subsidiary business in Spain.
Bisley consolidates all its manufacturing onto a single site, achieved by acquiring an extra 20,000 square metres in Newport. It also expands beyond Europe, establishing a business in Dubai.
Bisley acquires its North American subsidiary. The business now has presence in eight countries across three continents. This is also the year the business launches Be by Bisley, a ground-breaking approach to bespoke, integrated storage.
In November, Bisley is awarded the Manufacturing Guild Mark by the Furniture Makers’ Company. This prestigious award recognises excellence in design, sustainability and production. It assures all of Bisley’s customers that the furniture they are buying is made with care, and that Bisley adheres to the highest standards throughout its operations.
Bisley purchases a specialist supplier of fitted furniture for the Education market and in the following year, makes the additional investment to equip 80,000 square feet of factory. As a result, Bisley gains the capability to create bespoke panel-based wooden products, and wooden components to complement and enhance its steel products. This investment allows Bisley to expand its penetration into other markets including Healthcare, Residential, Hospitality and Office.
In May, the Furniture Makers’ Company recognises Bisley’s MultiDrawer with a Design Guild Mark, which acknowledges the highest standards of furniture design in volume production by British designers. This prestigious accolade is testament to the MultiDrawer’s enduring appeal and iconic status, sixty years on.
In April Bisley relocates its flagship London showroom to the heart of the UK design industry, and one of the capitals most vibrant neighbourhoods, Clerkenwell.


Richard Costin is appointed Bisley CEO and with his vision and drive, the company pivots and innovates to withstand the difficulties presented by the pandemic.
Following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, we supplied storage for centres set up to manage the transition away from the ports of embarkations.
Bisley won the direct Framework agreement with British Telecom to be the sole supplier of storage for their 4-year roll out 'Better Workplace' programme, which transforms 870 UK locations into 30 super-sized offices to house 80,000 staff.
We supplied a global leading bank with their office furniture installations across the world. We continue to work with them today.
We were chosen to support the NHS by supplying a specific cupboard required in every Covid test centre to store all the positive and inconclusive tests during the pandemic.
Bisley launches its new e-commerce website, further expanding our offering of furniture for the home. Sales from the website rose by over 3,000% over the course of the pandemic.
Following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, we supplied storage for centres set up to manage the transition away from the ports of embarkations.
We donated £2,500 to help many women and children who have had to flee Ukraine due to the ongoing war.
We provided a large number of lockers to enable migrants to store their clothing and personal belongings safely.
We were proud to win a Design Guild Mark Award with Buddy in 2022. The Design Guild Mark is awarded by The Furniture Makers’ Company, the City of London livery company and charity for the furnishing industry, to drive excellence and to raise the profile of British design and innovation.
We continue to launch a number of product ranges including Pren, Primary Lockers, Fern and Outline.

There’s no fast track to mastering your craft. It takes time. At Bisley, we’ve been refining our expertise over decades – and the results are visible in everything we create, right down to the smallest fitting.


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