Tiles has a proud history rooted in the design and manufacture of high quality
wall and floor tiles since 1901. With
companies on five continents it is one of the largest manufacturers of ceramic
tiles in the world.
In South Africa, the history of the brand begins in 1935 when a deal was concluded with T.L. Elliot & Company to represent H&R Johnson in South Africa as an extension of their UK sales force. Tiles were imported through offices set up in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and distributed to the local market.
In 1940, the export manager of H&R Johnson, Berth Smith and the late Derek Johnson, son of Col. Harry Johnson, one of the founders of H&R Johnson, came up with the idea to erect a tile manufacturing plant in South Africa. After many expeditions to the country, their dream was eventually realised in 1950 with a pilot plant being established in Olifantsfontein within the Consolidated Rand Brick factory. The first kilns laid down were electrical multi-passage Gottignie kilns that fired bisque and glost tiles with an average output of about 4000 square yards a week.
The Gottignie kilns were later replaced with two biscuit kilns and three glost tunnel kilns. Until 1984 production at the factory was limited to wall tiles. That same year the company decided to employ more modern production techniques and a single-fire or Monocottura kiln was commissioned. In June of 1987, a second kiln was commissioned and output of tiles increased to 20000m² per week. Production of floor tiles could now commence and in 1990 methods were adopted whereby patterns could be pressed onto the surface of the tiles. In 1992 the range of patterns was augmented by a series of patterns which were printed on the surface of the tile using the silk screen method.
In 1992, body preparation of floor tiles by means of ball milling was introduced to allow pin-point accuracy and control over the body preparation which was of paramount importance when using the single-fire method. It was decided to use this same method of body preparation for wall tiles and in 1993 three new mills were commissioned for this purpose.
In 1999, the wall tile plant was closed and the kilns dismantled, and the company took a decision to focus on producing only floor tiles using the two Monocottura kilns. One plant ran only 330x330mm glazed ceramic tiles and the other plant ran 400x400mm glazed ceramic tiles.
In 2004 seeing a gap in the market for larger format tiles, the company added the production of 500x500mm tiles to its product offering. Then, in 2006 to further diversify the product offering and to offer the contracts market a superior tile with a better water absorption rate, the company began producing porcelain tiles in 400x400mm format. This introduction meant that Johnson Tiles was the first and only manufacturer in South Africa with the capability of producing porcelain tiles.
In 2011 Johnson Tiles updated its logo to a fresher and more modern design, one which conveys the message that after so many years we are still here and are still on-trend. The company has also introduced new product packaging into the market to update the look and comply with CPA requirements. Since mid-2011 a major upgrade of all the manufacturing equipment has been underway in the factory and by the end of this year, new state-of-the-art sorting lines will be installed.
This commitment to new technology and continuous improvement is why Johnson Tiles is the name to trust for quality, on-trend tiles that have been trusted by professionals since 1952.