Tobacco industry pioneer, Anton Rupert, hosting a factory visit.
Although British American Tobacco South Africa can trace its heritage as far back as 1891, our official history began in 1904 with the creation of the United Tobacco Company.
British American Tobacco Group's centenary year was celebrated in 2002. In South Africa, however, we celebrated our 100 years of excellence in 2004.
At about the same time that a tobacco trade war was intensifying between British tobacco companies in the United Kingdom and the giant American Tobacco Company (ATC) in the United States of America, a similar battle was reaching its climax in South Africa. ATC had expanded its business to South Africa in 1891 and three years later three brothers - David, Albert and Hitler Holt - who had arrived in South Africa from England, also opened a cigarette factory in collaboration with W.D & H.O Wills of Bristol, England, to compete against the American company.
To end the intense mutual trade war, the UK’s Imperial Tobacco Company - formed as a result of a merger of a number of British tobacco companies, among them W.D & H.O Wills of Bristol - and ATC agreed to form a joint venture, the British American Tobacco Company.
1904 British American Tobacco buys smaller tobacco companies in SA and forms the United Tobacco Company.
1907 The first litigation case is brought against the company for £2,000 in damages “sustained through smoke, noise, noxious smells, and interference of light”. UTC wins the case.
1911 The Cigarette Excess and Surtax Act comes into operation, requiring manufacturers, importers, dealers and retailers to stamp all their stocks on hand, except those in bond. The stamp duty is fixed at one halfpenny for a half-ounce or less.
1921 UTC is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
1929 UTC purchases all the assets of rival African Tobacco Manufacturers for £500,000 and buys the company soon afterwards.
1936 The opening of the auction floors of the Rhodesian Tobacco Warehouse and Export Company Ltd in Salisbury (now Harare) is an innovation that ends the haphazard purchasing methods of the past. The auctions attract buyers from overseas and from every part of South Africa.
1945 Dr Anton Rupert and Sydney Rothman reach an agreement to manufacture Rothmans of Pall Mall’s trademarks in South Africa in exchange for technical know-how.
1948 Rembrandt Tobacco Corporation is established and the first Rembrandt cigarettes are manufactured in Paarl, South Africa.
1951 Authorised capital for UTC is increased from £4,900,000 to £7,300,000, a record level for a South African organisation focusing purely on manufacturing.
1954 Peter Stuyvesant is launched.
1956 Rembrandt Tobacco Corporation is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
1961 Rembrandt purchases a major South African competitor, Cavalla, and gains control of Dunhill through Carreras.
1964 United Tobacco Company begins to diversify with the acquisition of Willard Foods.
1975 Rembrandt expands its interests outside tobacco and liquor to other sectors of the South African economy, including financial services, mining, printing, packaging, medical services, media interests, engineering and adhesives.
1988 Overseas interests in Rembrandt are transferred to Compagnie Financière Richemont AG, a Swiss-listed luxury goods group with strategic interests in tobacco and direct retailing.
1994 After nearly 30 years of ownership, UTC sells Willards Foods to National Brands.
1995 Rembrandt and Richemont merge their tobacco interests in Rothmans International.
1997 The United Tobacco Company changes its name to British American Tobacco South Africa.
1998 British American Tobacco p.l.c. becomes a separately quoted company on the London Stock Exchange.
1999 British American Tobacco merges globally with Rothmans International. In South Africa, the company becomes the largest manufacturer of cigarettes.
2004 British American Tobacco South Africa celebrates 100 years of operation in South Africa.
2008 British American Tobacco South Africa launches Direct Store Sales to select customers and British American Tobacco p.l.c. is granted a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE).
2009 One-to-one communication with consumers is banned.
2011 British American Tobacco South Africa begins a trade marketing expansion project that will see over 600 new sales routes implemented and 770 new jobs created.
2012 British American Tobacco South Africa is recognised, for the fourth consecutive year, as a Best Employer for 2012/2013, ranking in the top 10 of the large business category.