Cargills - over 150 years in business and still going strong
Cargills is one of the few corporates that has stood the test of
time, enjoying success over a century of operation, Cargills (Ceylon)
PLC Deputy Chairman, Ranjit Page told the Sunday Observer, which has
commenced publishing articles on century- old companies in Sri Lanka .
He said, "Our founders were entrepreneurs who believed in the
enormous potential in Sri Lanka. Today the enterprise they launched has
taken a new direction and would continue to expand and diversify the
business. Their philosophy of creating value for Sri Lanka remains our
legacy handed down the generation of leadership as the true benchmark of
"That has been the success of Cargills, our ability to change and
innovate with time and consumer needs yet hold on to our values of
transparency, accountability and good governance", Page said.
In 1844, William Miller and David Sime Cargill commenced a general
warehouse, import and wholesale business in Colombo, Fort. The
establishment was named the 'House of Cargills'. A successful bid by Sir
Chittampalam A. Gardiner saw the House of Cargills being incorporated as
a Public Limited Liability Company on March 1,1946.
In 1981 Ceylon Theatres acquired the controlling interest of the
company and Albert A. Page was appointed Managing Director. Page went on
to become the Chairman of Cargills on November 26 1982. Under the new
management, Cargills explored the potential of innovating its trading
legacy. As a result, in 1983 Cargills established the first supermarket
chain in Sri Lanka with the opening of its first outlet at Staple
Cargills ventured into the production of processed meats in 1993 when
the company invested in its first manufacturing facility the Cargills
Quality Foods in Mattakkuliya.
In 1996, Cargills acquired the franchise license of KFC and innovated
on its secret recipe to deliver products that suited the local palate.
Cargills building in
Cargills began sourcing fruits and vegetables directly from farmers
in 1999 when it established its first collection centre in
In 2002 it invested on a dairy processing plant and whereby expanded
its outgrower network to include dairy farmers.
Cargills Magic ice cream was the outcome of this endeavour.
In the same year Cargills diversified into agri-processing with
Cargills, Kist which created further market opportunities for farmers.
In 2008 Cargills acquired Millers Limited, consolidating its
marketing and distribution operation.
In 2010 Cargills expanded its interest in the dairy sector with the
acquisition of Kotmale Holdings PLC and immediately after, bought the
abandoned biscuits manufacturing plant owned by Diana Manufactures (Pvt)
Ltd. In 2011 Cargills, through the subsidiary Millers Brewery Limited
acquired the famous McCallum Brewery renowned for 'Three Coins' beer.
According to the book 'Real Ceylon' by C. Brooke Elliot, when
Fredrick North, the first Governor of Ceylon from 1798-1805, first
arrived in Ceylon he had resided at a building in a block of old Dutch
building within Colombo Fort.
The building occupied by the Governor was at the corner of the block
which later became the Cargills Building in 1844. The curious old statue
of 'Goddess Minerva' the Goddess of War which stood on the gable of the
old Governor's' house still stands in top condition on the ground floor
of the Cargills building in Fort.
The original Dutch building occupied by Governor North which stood at
the location where the Cargills Fort property still stands today.
|A department store of
the old Cargills building in Fort
||The old Cargills
building in Fort