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Speedo International Ltd

Institution: Speedo International Ltd
MacRae Knitting Mills (later known as Speedo Knitting Mills Holdings Ltd) was formed in 1914 by Alexander MacRae. The first factory was in Regent Street, Sydney and produced woollen and cotton knitwear and underwear under the trade name Fortitude, taken from the MacRae family's crest. In 1918 the business moved to larger premises in Parramatta Road, Camperdown and then to a large factory in Newtown in 1922. The company occupied this site until 1956.

In 1928 the company decided to diversify into swimwear and the following year launched their new line under the trade name Speedo. The now famous brand is attributed to Captain Parsons, a former captain of square rigged sailing ships who won a staff slogan competition with the entry 'Speed on in your Speedo'. Alexander MacRae and John Walker registered the racer-back swim suit design in 1929 and MacRae Knitting Mills became Speedo Knitting Mills (Holdings) Ltd in 1942.

Since then, Speedo has concentrated on designing racing costumes with greater freedom of movement, enabling competitive swimmers to reach faster times. Subsequent leisure swimwear ranges have also reflected an athletic design value. Speedo has supplied costumes for Australian Olympic swimming squads since 1936 and also supplied swimming costumes and accessories to Australian Commonwealth Games teams.

During World War II Speedo turned over 90% of its resources to defence production manufacturing knitwear, underwear, mosquito tents, signal flags and Stars and Stripes flags for the American forces. In 1947 the company opened a new factory at Windsor, NSW, and another in Newcastle in 1952.

In 1951 Speedo Knitting Mills (Holdings) Ltd was incorporated and became a publicly traded company on the Sydney stock exchange. It began exporting to the USA in 1959 and formed a new International division. Speedo Europe was formed in the 1960s and in the 1970s new ventures were launched in Eastern Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Canada. By the 1980s Speedo was licensed in 112 countries and most of the world's elite swimmers were competing in Speedo swimwear.

In 1990 the UK based Pentland Group purchased the licence for Speedo International and the manufacturing and marketing of Speedo Australia. In 2001 all manufacturing was moved offshore to Speedo International factories.