In 1937, Radio Rentals is born in England. The brainchild of two businessmen, Trenham and Warburton, the demand for radios is so high that, within six months, the company is a runaway success. The business is brought to Australia on Tuesday, 5 October 1937. The first store opens in Market Street, Sydney.
The radio/phonograph is developed into a combined unit, and provides Radio Rentals with the opportunity to enhance its already popular radio range. The radio/phonograph takes pride of place in homes around Australia as a piece of household furniture.
In 1956, the company introduces the first black-and-white televisions into the Australian market. As the popularity of the small screen increases, the number of rented televisions overtakes radios.
The development of smaller, more portable television units enables Radio Rentals to offer a wider variety of affordable rental options. In 1968, Thorn purchases the Baird television brand, named after the ‘father of modern television’, John Logie Baird.
In 1973, AWA-Thorn colour televisions are introduced into Australia from the UK. This provides Radio Rentals with the opportunity to offer customers the most up-to-date technology at an affordable price.
Advances in technology see the introduction of the first, fully remote controlled televisions and VCRs, along with portable phones, fax machines, video cameras, film projectors and microwaves. These breakthroughs allow Radio Rentals to extend its range into both the domestic and commercial sectors.
Whitegoods, furniture, stereo systems with turntables, cassette players and, later in the decade, single and six-stacker CD players are added to the Radio Rentals product range. A new division called Redihire is announced which, after eight years of operation, is amalgamated into the Radio Rentals brand.
2000s and beyond
At the turn of the 21st century, Radio Rentals introduces the first plasma and LCD televisions, desktop computers, laptops and smartphones. The company also launches its successful ‘Rent, Try, $1 Buy*’ campaign, giving customers the option of purchasing similar items to their rented equipment after a set term. In 2006, Thorn Group’s Radio Rentals and Rentlo (RR Rentlo Reinvented) brands are now household names. With a growing network of stores across the country, Thorn lists on the Australian Stock Exchange. By 2010 the company begins manufacturing and importing Thorn-branded refrigerators, technology products and televisions. The products are an instant success in the Australian marketplace.