Discover more about our history

Founded in the early 1830's, the Jardine Matheson Group has been one of Asia's most dynamic trading companies, often having to adapt and reinvent itself in face of the challenges and opportunities in order to survive and prosper. The Group has led the way in many businesses and has grown and evolved with the communities in which it operates.

These historical chapters chronicle a selection of key milestones, major developments and achievements of a very unique company.

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1830 - 1899
Early Trading Years, Building Hong Kong as a Trading Port
  • Jardine, Matheson & Co (JM & Co) was founded in Canton in July 1832 by Scots William Jardine and James Matheson.
  • Following the end of the East India Company's trading monopoly with China, Jardine Matheson sent its first private shipments of tea to England in 1834.
  • JM & Co saw the development potential of Hong Kong as a trading base and moved its operations temporarily from Macao to Hong Kong in 1839.
  • In 1841, JM & Co purchased the first plots of land at East Point for £565. The Firm's Chinese name 'Ewo' – 'the state of happy harmony' – was adopted the following year.
  • Hong Kong was officially declared a British colony under the Treaty of Nanking in 1843.
  • JM & Co completed the move of its main office to Hong Kong and opened its office in Shanghai when it purchased Lot No. 1 in 1844. More offices were subsequently opened in Canton, Amoy and Foochow.
  • The Group achieved a number of firsts in its history. In 1855, JM & Co inaugurated the steamer cargo line from Calcutta to the Far East. The Firm became the first foreign trading house to establish in Japan by acquiring Lot No. 1 in the first Yokohama land sale. Offices were later opened in Kobe, Nagasaki and other ports.
  • In the 1860s, JM & Co's trading activities were enhanced by the expansion of its shipping, banking and insurance interests. The Firm moved its main office from East Point to Central Hong Kong in 1864. During this time, it started to initiate a wide range of infrastructure projects in Hong Kong and introduced the first inter-office telegraph in the colony in 1869.
  • JM & Co constructed the first railway line in China from Shanghai to Woosung in 1876 and pioneered sugar refining with the formation of China Sugar Refinery Co. in 1878. It established the first ice-making factory in Hong Kong the following year.
  • During the 1880s, JM & Co's growing interests in China included wharves, warehouses, cotton mills, mining and engineering. The Indo-China Steam Navigation Company was formed in 1881 as an amalgamation of the Firm's river, coastal and cargo interests.
  • In Hong Kong, JM & Co helped establish Hong Kong Tramways in 1884 and Hong Kong Wharf and Godown Company in 1886. Sir Paul Chater, in partnership with JM & Co, formed Hongkong Land in 1889. The Firm also opened the first spinning and weaving factory in 1897, laying the foundation for a successful industry for the territory.
  • The 99-year lease of the New Territories was granted in 1898. JM & Co helped establish The Star Ferry Company in the same year.
1900 - 1979
Years of Turmoil, Business Transformation, Regional Expansion
  • In 1906, JM & Co became a limited company. British & Chinese Corporation (BCC), formed by JM & Co and HSBC, signed a contract for the construction of the Kowloon-Canton railway the following year. In 1908, BCC signed a contract for the construction of the Shanghai-Nanking Railway.
  • By the 1910s, the heart of the business was in Shanghai, and from 1912 onwards the city was regarded as the Firm's headquarters. The Firm began to expand into new products and services to meet the needs of the growing industrialisation of China.
  • JM & Co staff casualties during World War I amounted to twenty-one.
  • A cold storage company was set up in 1920 on the Shanghai river front under the Ewo banner and the Firm's cotton mills businesses in China were merged to form Ewo Cotton Mills in 1921.
  • Jardine Engineering Company (JEC) was formed in Shanghai in 1923, playing a major role in providing machinery, equipment and services for the growing infrastructure developments in Hong Kong and China. In the same year, the sale of part of East Point was completed and the Tokyo earthquake demolished JM & Co's Yokohama office.
  • By 1930, JM & Co's main offices were in Hong Kong and Shanghai. In this year, JEC installed the first lift in Tianjin, China, while in the following year the first Schindler lift was installed in Hong Kong. JEC also pioneered the ammonia-type air-conditioners and led in areas of heating and sanitation during this time.
  • The conflict in China and the outbreak of World War II in 1939 marked the beginning of a decade of turmoil. The entry of Japan into the War in 1941 forced the closure of the Firm's offices in Hong Kong and China, although a presence was maintained in Chongqing.
  • JM & Co was one of the first companies to resume operations in Hong Kong and Shanghai after the War. In 1947, the Firm's business in Japan was re-established and its shipping activities were also revived. In the same year, Jardine Airways was formed with one of the first customers being the forerunner of British Airways.
  • Similar to all foreign companies, JM & Co closed its offices in China in 1954. Nevertheless, the Firm maintained its links with the Mainland.
  • During the period from 1950s to 1980s, the Group went through another period of transformation. Jardines' head office returned to Hong Kong in 1957 and the old Jardine House on Pedder Street was replaced by the new Jardine House (now Wheelock House).
  • In the 1960s, Hong Kong developed from an entrepot trading port into an international manufacturing and business centre.
  • JM & Co became a public company in 1961, with the initial offer oversubscribed by some 56 times.
  • In 1963, Hongkong Land opened the Mandarin Hotel, while JM Australia began operations in Sydney. Dairy Farm acquired the Wellcome grocery chain in Hong Kong in 1964.
  • In 1970, JM & Co pioneered merchant banking in Hong Kong and the region with the establishment of Jardine Fleming in a joint venture partnership with Robert Fleming, and opened a representative office in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1971.
  • JM & Co extended its interest in the insurance sector with acquisitions in the UK and the US in the 70s, laying the groundwork for Jardine Insurance Brokers.
  • On the hotel and hospitality front, the Excelsior hotel in Hong Kong was opened in 1972 at the site of Jardines' original land purchase, followed by the acquisition of The Oriental, Bangkok in 1973, and hotels in Manila and Jakarta in 1976 and 1978, respectively.
  • JM & Co moved its head office from Jardine House to Connaught Centre in 1974 (renamed Jardine House in 1989). The Group acquired Theo H. Davies in the Philippines in the same year, which was renamed Jardine Davies Inc. (remaining interests sold in 2001). The Firm also opened a branch office in Seoul, South Korea.
  • In 1975, the Firm acquired Gammon Construction, Hong Kong's leading construction company, now a 50-50 joint venture with Balfour Beatty. In the same year, it acquired a majority stake in Zung Fu, Hong Kong's Mercedes-Benz distributor, which became the core business of Jardine Motors. The Firm also made significant investments in Transport Trading Inc in Saudi Arabia (sold in 1995).
  • JM & Co was one of the first companies to re-establish relations with mainland China with the opening of a representative office in Beijing in 1979, followed by offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou.
1980 - 1999
Economic Challenges, Business Repositioning, New Markets Exploration
  • This period saw Hong Kong's economy taking off, and the Group also made substantial headway in its business developments in the territory. In 1980, the first industrial joint venture in mainland China was formed by Jardine Schindler, while Maxim's Caterers made history by entering the first joint venture providing air catering services in the Mainland. In the same year, the Group acquired a 40% interest in Hongkong Land Co., cementing a closer relationship between the two companies.
  • A major insurance broking operation was acquired in San Francisco, and the Group's motor business was extended to the UK. The Group opened the first 7-Eleven convenience store in Hong Kong in 1981.
  • Jardines celebrated its 150th anniversary and established the Jardine Foundation offering scholarships to students from the region to attend Oxford and Cambridge universities. The Jardine Ambassadors Programme was also launched, with the objective of providing young Jardines executives in Hong Kong the opportunity to serve the community.
  • In 1984, Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited (JMH) was formed as the Group's holding company incorporated in Bermuda. The Group also withdrew from the ship-owning activities.
  • 1986 saw the Group undertake a series of corporate moves in which Dairy Farm and Mandarin Oriental were listed in Hong Kong, and Jardine Strategic Holdings Limited (JSH) was formed to hold stakes in a number of Group Companies.
  • In 1987, the Pizza Hut franchise in Hong Kong was taken by Jardines. The Group continued its expansion in consumer marketing with the acquisition of the IKEA franchise in Hong Kong and a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz in Southern China.
  • Jardine Pacific (JP) was established in 1988 to integrate the Group's trading and services operations and with a view to creating larger business units. In the same year, a Hong Kong consortium comprising Cheung Kong, New World and Henderson Land sold a 9% interest in Hongkong Land to JMH.
  • In 1990, Jardine International Motors was formed, bringing together all motor vehicle interests within the Group.
  • During the 1990s, Dairy Farm acquired supermarket operations in Spain, New Zealand and Singapore to increase its business scale in the retail sector. However, its European operations could not match the performance of the Asia Pacific businesses and were subsequently sold.
  • In 1991, Jardine Insurance Brokers was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was later merged with another listed broker (Lloyd Thompson) in 1997 to form Jardine Lloyd Thompson, one of the leading listed brokers in the UK.
  • The Group acquired a 16% interest in Singapore-listed blue chip Cycle & Carriage with interests in motor vehicles and property in 1992. Dairy Farm opened its first 7-Eleven store in Southern China in the same year. By the end of 1993, the Group had increased its interests in Cycle & Carriage, Dairy Farm, Hongkong Land and Mandarin Oriental.
  • During the early 1990s, Jardine Matheson and four other listed Group companies established their primary listings on the London Stock Exchange while the main Asian share trading moved to Singapore.
  • Mandarin Oriental, London was opened in 1996.
  • Hong Kong returned to Chinese Sovereignty in 1997.
  • Hongkong Land strengthened its presence in the Mainland with the acquisition of a 40% interest in a residential estate in Beijing and completed its second office development in Vietnam in 1997. In the following year, the company began the redevelopment of a major Hong Kong property, while undertaking developments in Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam.
  • Dairy Farm acquired a significant stake in the leading supermarket group Hero in Indonesia, and expanded its retail business in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998. Mandarin Oriental also took a 25% stake in a new hotel in Miami, and announced a major hotel project in New York in 1999.
  • In 1998, the Group agreed to exchange its 50% interest in Jardine Fleming for a shareholding in its joint venture partner, Robert Fleming, giving it a total holding of 18%.
  • In 1999, Dairy Farm acquired 90% of Giant Malaysia.
2000 - 2017
The Growth Journey
  • The period from the year 2000 saw the Group's growth accelerating, underpinned by its founders' spirit of not being afraid of taking calculated risks. In 2000, the Group began its long-term successful investment in leading Indonesian conglomerate, Astra International. This occurred against the backdrop of the fall-out from 1997 Asian Financial Crisis when the rest of the world was still nervous about developments in Southeast Asia.
  • The Group also increased its investment in Cycle & Carriage, which became a subsidiary following a successful partial offering to increase the Group's interest from 30% to 50%, and subsequently changed its name to Jardine Cycle & Carriage.
  • Dairy Farm refocused its operations on Greater China and Southeast Asia with the disposal of the wholly-owned Franklins supermarket chain in Australia in 2001.
  • Dairy Farm acquired IKEA home furnishings business in Hong Kong and Taiwan from Jardine Pacific, and has since extended its reach to Indonesia.
  • In 2006, Hongkong Land acquired a 77% stake in MCL Land, a Singapore-listed residential property developer to further enhance its residential capabilities. It is now wholly-owned.
  • Hongkong Land became a Group subsidiary in 2009.
  • Jardine Cycle & Carriage acquired a 20% interest in Truong Hai Automotive Corporation, a leading automotive company in Vietnam, in 2008 and the interest now stands at 25%.
  • The Group also ventured into new markets such as Cambodia. In 2010 Jardine Strategic purchased a 12.25% stake in ACLEDA Bank Plc, Cambodia's second largest bank, which was held for a number of years. Hongkong Land invested in the Cambodian property market via the purchase of four prime freehold sites in Phnom Penh and a leasehold site in Siem Reap.
  • In 2012, Dairy Farm entered the Cambodian and the Philippines markets with the acquisition of the Lucky supermarket business and Rustan's supermarket chain, respectively. The following year it opened its first Guardian pharmacy in Phnom Penh, while in the Philippines in 2014 it acquired a 49% interest in Cebu-based Rose Pharmacy Inc.
  • The Group extended its reach to Myanmar in 2013 with a representative office in Yangon. Jardine Schindler opened a new office there to consolidate its presence in the country.
  • In Hong Kong, the Group's investment continued. Maxim's and Starbucks Coffee International formed a joint venture in 2000 to open retail operations, and has since extended its Starbucks interests to Macau, Singapore and Vietnam. In 2013 Jardine Restaurant Group acquired the KFC franchise in Hong Kong and Macau.
  • Gammon completed the design-and-build of the Hong Kong SAR Government's office complex in 2011.
  • The prospects of the Group's businesses in mainland China became increasingly attractive. In 2004, Hongkong Land entered the Chongqing property market through a joint venture with Chongqing Longhu Real Estate Development to undertake a luxury residential development named Bamboo Grove. This was the start of the growth of its residential development activities in many cities across the country. Hongkong Land also won a site in Wangfujing, located in the heart of Beijing, for US$455 million, that is being developed into a 50,000 sq. m. world-class retail complex and Mandarin Oriental hotel.
  • Hongkong Land's joint venture property Marina Bay Financial Centre, the largest integrated mixed-use development in Singapore's new downtown, celebrated its grand opening in 2013; the company also marked the 20th anniversary of its entry into the Vietnam market through its joint venture with Central Building, a premium office and retail development in the heart of Hanoi.
  • Also in mainland China, Jardine Lloyd Thompson commenced operations with its joint venture, JLT Li-Xin; Jardine Strategic invested US$731 million in Hong Kong-listed Zhongsheng Group Holdings Limited, one of the Mainland's leading motor dealership groups; while Dairy Farm acquired a 19.99% interest in Shanghai-listed supermarket and hypermarket operator Yonghui Superstores Co., Ltd. By 2016, the Group's capex investment in mainland China amounted to US$8 billion.
  • In Thailand, Jardine Cycle & Carriage invested in a 24.9% interest in Siam City Cement in 2015.
  • Meanwhile, since 2000 Mandarin Oriental has expanded its footprint across the five continents, with new hotels in Barcelona, Paris, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Taipei, Beijing, Santiago, Milan and Marrakech.
  • Astra also continued to expand its activities, building on its successful automotive, agribusiness and mining contracting operations. It entered into an agreement to form a 50-50 joint venture with Aviva plc in 2014, the UK's largest insurer to sell and distribute life insurance products in Indonesia. The group entered into a joint venture with Hongkong Land and PT Brahmayasa Bahtera to develop a luxurious apartment complex, Anandamaya Residences, in Jakarta.
  • Jardine Strategic acquired 22% shareholding in Hong Kong-listed Greatview Aseptic Packaging Company Limited, the second-largest supplier of aseptic carton packaging in China and the third-largest globally, in June 2017.
  • Jardine Cycle & Carriage increased the Group's exposure to the growing Vietnamese economy with the acquisition of a 10% stake in Vinamilk for US$1.15 billion in November 2017. Vinamilk is the leading dairy producer in Vietnam.