Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 15 January 2012





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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 .

Ranjit Page

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 business success."

"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 Street.

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 Fort

Cargills began sourcing fruits and vegetables directly from farmers in 1999 when it established its first collection centre in Hanguranketha.

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


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