A royal endorsement for Roberts

In Industry News On

Roberts Radio has just celebrated its 80th anniversary – in style – befitting the heritage of the brand and the design of its iconic radios.

Roberts’ birthday celebratory dinner, held at St James Palace, was made even more memorable with a guest appearance of the Palace’s host – HRH Prince Charles.

Launched in 1932 by Harry Roberts and Leslie Bidmead who had the ambitions to produce the finest radios that would last a lifetime, the company was initially making only three receivers a week. Once Harry demonstrated their new product to Harrods and received its first order, other department stores followed and the rest is history. 

Over the next 80 years the brand not only has earned its iconic status, royal following and two Royal Warrants, but has also introduced a number of world-firsts including the Pauseplus function, a CD bookmark feature, solar powered DAB radio and Robi (the ipod / DAB adaptor). The company currently has over 90 products in its portfolio, not including colour options.

Roberts’ Revival radio is the company’s biggest success story. First launched in the 1950s and then re-introduced in 1993, this retro design has become an icon and the UK’s best selling portable radio. The wooden cabinet, covered in a leather cloth finish epitomises 50s chic and, whilst the look remains the same, the technology ‘in the box’ has changed to offer all the benefits of DAB technology. The Revival is available in an array of colours, regularly updated according to current trends.  There has been a series of limited editions created with like-minded British brands such as Paul Smith, Mulberry and more recently Cath Kidston. Its other cover designs included leopard-like skin, mink-coat and jewel-encrusted suede.

In 2011, the company introduced a limited edition Union Jack RD60. Responding to popular demand for all things British, following the Royal Wedding and in preparations for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, Roberts introduced the Union Jack Revival. For 2012, the company launched an anniversary edition of the Revival in red, white and blue in a gloss finish. 

Chatting to IER, HRH Prince Charles confessed that he has personal attachment to the Roberts brand. He recalled that there was a Roberts radio decorated with nursery-rhyme characters in his childhood playroom and presently he cherishes his green Revival while his wife enjoys using its red model. 

At the royal reception at St James Palace, Roberts Radio has also fêted Stan Vandenbergh who, aged 84, spent 70 years working for the company. He is not only Roberts’ longest serving employee, but possibly holds one of the UK’s longest work records. Stan joined the business in December 1942, aged just 14 when it was a small, family-run firm with nine employees. During the Second World War, Stan helped to assemble radios for the RAF and Morse Code tappers. 

In 1993, Stan semi ‘retired’ but he still works a three-day week and ensures that Roberts’ independent retailers have enough sets in stock to serve growing demand for the company’s radios.

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