Pirelli is a major tyre, rubber goods, and cable manufacturer. The company's advertising department is also the publisher of the famous Pirelli Calendar.
Pirelli & C was founded in Milan, Italy in 1872 by Giovanni Battista. A year later he established the company's first general rubber goods factory. By the end of the nineteenth century Pirelli produced insulated telepgraph wires, submarine telegraph tables and bicycle tyres. The first passenger car tyre was produced in 1901.
The company's geographical expansion started in the early twentieth century with the opening of cable factories in Spain (1902), Great Britain (1914) and Argentina (1917). Further factories were commisioned in Brazil (1929) and Belgium (1938).
From the 1920s onwards racing drivers such as Nuvolari, Ascari and Fangio began to score a lengthy series of victories using Pirelli tyres. To date the company boasts over 80 successes in international Grand Prix races, 6 World Driver Championships and 18 victories with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari in the legendary Mille Miglia races.
The first radial tyre, the Cinturato, was developed in 1948. It was to be a milestone in tyre development. The 1960s and 1970s was another period of expansion - the German tyre company Veith was acquired in 1963.
In 1971 a union with Dunlop was agreed, a venture which was prolific for the consolidation trend that was to later dominate the rubber industry. However, the external environment was to have a strong influence on the union, which was severed in 1980. With the Eighties came a wave of economic recovery for Pirelli and several acquisitions were made: Metzeler and Armstrong in the tyre sector, Filergie and Standard Telephone Cable's land telecomunication cables in the cable sector.
In recent years the company extended its activities into new markets, such as Indonesia and China. Furthermore, a strategic agreement with Cisco Systems was concluded and the company managed to reinforce its world leadership in energy cables with the acquisition of the 14 country activities of Siemens in 1998, Metal Manufacturers Ltd. in Australia, Draka Holding in Holland and Finland and BICC General's energy cables in 2000.
Pirelli's tyre sector has 21 factories and approx. 20,000 employees in Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Turkey, United States and Venezuela and has a marketing network covering over 120 countries around the world. The Company is among the world's top tyre manufacturers, with sales of over 2.831 billion Euro in 2001.
With 14,000 employees and 52 plants in 22 countries on all world continents and total sales of more than 3.5 billion Euro, Pirelli Energy Cables and Systems is the international leader in its field, with a market share in excess of 10%. Production includes electric cables - from very high to low voltage, for underground, submarine and aerial applications - and a vast range of accessories.
Pirelli Telecom Cables and Systems employs 4,000 people in 17 factories in 13 countries and in 2001 it achieved a turnover of 1.23 billion Euro, continuing to maintain a strong emphasis on innovative research.