Many of us are familiar with Swire Coca-Cola USA, longtime Bottler and a forward thinking beverage operator in the heart of Utah. However, everyone may not be aware that this USA anchor Bottler is also part of a larger global organization that is celebrating their 200th anniversary this year. It is also 150 years since Swire first opened an office in China. There are certainly older firms around the world, but few that have built such a diverse portfolio of business interest from scratch. Equally impressive is the Company’s enduring association with a single family! The current Chairman, Barnaby Swire and the current CEO, Merlin Swire are great-great-great grandsons of the founder. Many CCBA Members who have celebrated their centennial anniversaries can likely appreciate this extraordinary business milestone – and that two centuries later, Swire family members still lead the Company today.
It all started in 1816, when John Swire & Son (JS&S), the Swire Group’s parent company, first opened its doors for business, as a modest Liverpool, England import-export company. Today, the Swire Group is headquartered in London and operates across six continents, employing 136,000 people and boasting net assets of 58 billion dollars. The Company’s Chinese name is Taikoo, meaning “Great and Ancient.” Its motto “Esse Quam Videri” translates “To be, rather than seem to be” — a fitting maxim for today’s fast turning business environment.
So what does a diverse company portfolio look like?
John Swire & Son has a 49% shareholding interest in publicly traded Swire Pacific Limited (SPL.) In turn, SPL holds the group’s interest in three additional publicly traded companies: Cathay Pacific Airways (45%); Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO) (75%) and Swire Properties (82%.)
Now let’s take a closer look. Swire Properties includes a wide range of businesses, such as:
• Developments in Hong Kong and mainland China
• New construction in Miami, FL
• Diverse portfolio in Papua NewGuinea
• Property management
• Five star hotels
• Award winning malls
Some additional highlights…
Cathay Pacific, founded in Hong Kong in 1946, has one of the world’s most modern fleets, including 188 aircraft with 79 on order. Cathay Pacific is a member of Oneworld Global Alliance which serves more than 210 destinations. Cathay Pacific’s portfolio also includes Dragonair/Cathay Dragon*, (serving 52 destinations in Mainland China) and HAECO, a leading provider of aircraft engineering services.
*Dragonair was recently rebranded as Cathay Dragon.
Swire Pacific Offshore interests cover a broad range of commerce that include operating a fleet of 88 anchor tugs, ice-breaking vessels and two state of the art windfarm vessels. China Navigation Company for example, is a wholly owned subsidiary that was established in 1872 and operates a diverse fleet of containers, multipurpose, general cargo and bulk carrier vessels.
Taikoo Motor Group owns dealerships with brand names like Volkswagen, Volvo Trucks and Harley-Davidson. KALARI of Australia supports the mining industry with nationwide depots. What else? The Swire Group has been in paint production since the 1930s!
Swire has also been involved in food production since the 1880s. Swire Cold Storage operates in the United States, Australia and China with a portfolio as diverse as its other business ventures. Swire manufactures and distributes Campbell Soup for mainland China and
owns and operates Taikoo Sugar Refinery, established in Hong Kong in 1881. James Finlay, one of the world’s oldest tea growers, is also a wholly owned Swire subsidiary and a leading international supplier of tea, coffee and natural ingredients for the global beverage industry. Finlay operates tea plantations in Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Argentina.
Swire is the leading operator of refrigerated warehousing in Australia and Vietnam, third in the USA, and has expanding interests in the sector in both Mainland China and Sri Lanka.
And of course, we acknowledge Swire as a longstanding Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Association Member! A Coca-Cola franchisee since the mid-1960s, soft drink production and distribution is one of Swire’s core competencies. Swire has annual sales of still and sparkling drinks in excess of 1,000 million unit cases in its Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan and USA franchise territories.
Here’s to another 200 years!