History: a little twist of fate

Breda or Eindhoven?
If Gerard Philips hadn’t read that article on lightbulbs during his work at a Scottish shipyard in 1886, we still might have been that unknown little farmers village.

Thanks to the two brothers, Anton en Gerard Philips, deciding to establish a lightbulb-factory in Eindhoven, the little agricultural town of Eindhoven flourished to the biggest city in the Southern part of The Netherlands and the 5th biggest in the Country. Belonging to the top the world’s technology-centers. Of course the succeeding merger with surrounding villages as well as the establishment of other big companies increased the growth rapidly. From 4500 inhabitants at the moment Philips started in 1891, including the 28 employees producing bulbs, the current population exceeds 210.000

It’s been a twist of fate. At  first the two Philips-brothers decided to have the factory build in Breda, but a cheap old weaving mill for sale at the Emmasingel in Eindhoven changed their minds and subsequently changed the history of this little town.

Philips not solely built factories but also created entire residential areas as well as local sports teams, of which the football-division PSV (Philips Sports Club) became by far the most popular, gaining worldwide recognition after winning the UEFA Champions League in 1988. ‘Philips’ still is proudly worn on the chest of the PSV Football-players, being one of the few teams worldwide which never changed their shirtsponsor.

Okay, but Philips Headquarters is in Amsterdam, right?

Maybe the biggest stab in the back of the proud Eindhoven people was the decision by Cor Boonstra , successor of the ‘Butcher of Eindhoven’, to move the Headquarters of the company to “more trendy and fancy Amsterdam”.  In the eyes of many locals their pride was moved to the hated and rivalrous capital. Even the local PSV-supporters were made fun of by opposing fans, showing the tight link between Eindhoven, Philips and PSV. Didn’t sound like this move was making things better for us.



The exact truth of that notorious move may never be out there, but once in a while the rumour pops up that the Headquarters are coming home and everything will be back as normal. Until that time, the locals simply refer to the Big Philips building at the Boschdijk as being the sole Headquarters.

The Butcher of Eindhoven?

Jan Timmer, CEO of Philips during 1990-1996, led Operation Centurion causing the mass lay-off of over 50.000 Phlips-employees.  Eindhoven seemed to be unemployed. Even though he saved Philips from bankruptcy he has never been appreciated locally. His later collapse with successful PSV-trainer and local hero Guus Hiddink, leading to Hiddink’s resign, made his reputation as Butcher even stronger.


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