Our History

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The origins of Perivan are quite remarkable. We’re incredibly proud of our heritage. Quite unbelievably, there are family roots within the business today which can be traced back as far as the 19th century!

To understand how we’ve reached the point in our development we’re at today, it’s fascinating to return to the beginning and observe how the business has grown.

In the 19th century…

A 20-year-old John Wertheimer arrived in England from Frankfurt, believed to be from a prosperous banking family with connections to the Rothschilds. He had a letter of introduction to the famous Nathan Meyer Rothschild who told him “Come back in three days and I’ll take you round in my carriage to meet my friends.” In 1820, John Wertheimer set up his business and founded a printer in Goodmans Fields, near Aldgate. He achieved plenty of success printing in Hebrew and other languages, as well as English and foreign language printing, which became a speciality.

Worship Street, London

A Mr J E Lea became a partner of the business in 1864, and it was promptly renamed to Wertheimer Lea & Co. When John Wertheimer passed away in 1883, Mr J H Williams purchased his share (great grandfather of Philip Williams, who works within Perivan today). Over the years, J H Williams acquired the rest of the company and in 1899, Wertheimer Lea built a new factory in Worship Street, London, to consolidate 5 production sites. Now central London, at the time the new factory was built, it was possible to see fields from the top floor. The biggest USP was that all the machines were powered by electricity. The business was renamed in 1914 to Williams Lea to reflect the existing founders. A fun fact – Williams Lea printed the first edition of the Radio Times in 1923!

Founding Perivan

Perivan was founded in 1937 in Rayleigh, Essex, by Percy Cooke and Ivan Heath. The name ‘Perivan’ comes from their first names combined. In the same year that Perivan was founded, J H Williams passed away and J G Williams (grandfather of Philip Williams who works at Perivan today) inherited the company.

Wartime propaganda printing

Throughout the wartime years, Williams Lea survived the blitz where many other printers did not. With its specialism in foreign language printing, this was understandably in very high demand at this point in history, and Williams Lea was heavily involved in the printing of propaganda materials in German which bombers distributed by throwing them out of aeroplanes over Germany – containing messages encouraging the enemy to give up. Williams Lea also printed newspapers for governments in exile in London, including Poland and Norway, and stamps for the Post Office.

A growing business

In 1961, J G Williams passed away and his sons J F G and A G Williams (Philip Williams father) became joint Managing Directors at William Lea. At this point, Perivan had grown from a single typewriter to a litho printer with around 70 employees. 3 years after both sons became Managing Directors, Williams Lea acquired Perivan for its litho printing expertise.

Throughout the 80’s, Williams Lea began its transformation into a highly successful Business Process Outsourcing company and in 2003, the current directors established a company to acquire the assets of Perivan. Williams Lea was sold to Deutsche Post in 2006.

SaaS development

Bringing us to more recent times, over the last decade Perivan has developed their SaaS business subsequently named Simplifie. Perivan and Simplifie split in 2019 to form separate companies, with Simplifie being almost immediately acquired by Diligent Corporation of the US.

Perivan – re-launched

2020 marks the re-launch of Perivan, 200 years after John Wertheimer founded his organisation.

Stepping into the future

It’s a testament to the sort of workplace Perivan is that so many employees have stayed with the business over the years. It’s quite clear that our team have adapted and changed to fit the market and we’ve always kept ourselves on the front foot of change. By constantly challenging ourselves to grow and adapt in this way, this makes Perivan a business that is fully fit for the future.


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