SABMiller logo


  • 1886 

    • Proclamation of the Witwatersrand goldfields, mining town of Johannesburg established.

  • 1895 

    • SAB founded with share capital of £350,000 and £300,000 of debentures (The drink of choice in South Africa's dusty prospecting fields was raw potato spirit mixed with tobacco juice and pepper. Small wonder beer was well received.)

      Castle Lager launched from a newly-commissioned lager brewery – capacity 50 000 barrels per annum.

  • 1896 

    • SAB pays a 15% maiden dividend and increases its capital to £500,000, first bar erected on company land in central Johannesburg.

  • 1897 

    • Listed on The Johannesburg Stock Exchange – the first industrial share.

      First industrial share
  • 1898 

    • Listed on The London Stock Exchange. (Diggers' News Headline: Castle Lager beer a phenomenal success. Taste its brilliancy, taste its flavour, 6 pence per glass)

  • 1899 

    • Three-year Anglo-Boer War disrupts economic and social conditions.

  • 1901 

    • Despite the war, annual profits rise to £100,000 and assets exceed £1 million.

  • 1902 

    • Capital invested doubles to £2 million, a record for any non-mining company in South Africa.

  • 1910 

    • Union Act comes into force and a unified South Africa takes its place in the British Commonwealth of Nations.

      Expansion continues north of the Limpopo, beyond the borders of South Africa, with the formation of Rhodesian Breweries.

  • 1911 

    • SAB stimulates local barley industry – supplying imported seed free of charge and contracting to buy the crop at market prices.

  • 1912 

    • SAB and rival Ohlsson's co-operate in exploring local hops production.

  • 1914 

    • War breaks out in Europe.

  • 1917 

    • SAB takes over the defunct Union Glass to counter acute shortage of bottles during World War I.

  • 1918 

    • Post-war depression accompanied by increasing labour turmoil. Industrial disturbances force sporadic closure of breweries.

  • 1925 

    • Stake acquired in Schweppes sparkling beverages.

      Schweppes logo
  • 1933 

    • Gold standard abolished and economy improves dramatically.

  • 1935 

    • Extensive hop fields established at George in joint venture with Ohlsson's. The idea of a merger with Ohlsson's was first mooted back in 1899 and then abandoned. Although resuscitated many times, another 20 years would pass before this vision became a reality.

      Gold bars
  • 1939-45 

    • South Africa participates with the Allied forces in World War II, but experiences serious shortages of manpower and materials back home.

  • 1945 

    • Joint promotion of local barley industry with Ohlsson's.

  • 1948 

    • National Party wins first post-war election, ushering in 45 years of statutory race segregation.

  • 1949 

    • Massive expansion programme of £4.5 million involves breweries, small hotels and pubs.

  • 1950 

    • SAB head office and seat of control moves from London to Johannesburg.

      SAB head office 1950
  • 1951 

    • Rhobrew invests in a new brewery in Ndola, Zambia.

  • 1952 

    • Rhodesian brewing activity spreads to Bulawayo.

  • 1953 

    • Work begins on new Castle Brewery site in Isando, east of Johannesburg – the largest brewhouse in Africa and one of the most modern in the world.

      Castle Brewery site
  • 1954 

    • SAB subsidiary Union Glass merges with Consolidated Glassworks (sold off in 1960 to Anglovaal Industries).

  • 1955 

    • Discriminatory excise duty structures favour spirits and prejudice beer, making it the most heavily taxed beverage in South Africa.

  • 1956 

    • SAB responds by buying out the Ohlsson's and Chandlers Union Breweries groups for some £400,000, enabling extensive rationalisation of production and distribution facilities and eliminating much wasteful competition. Capital of the new group increased to £6.25 million. (The irony of the double acquisition was that it was driven by SAB, with the smallest asset base, but with the vision and appetite which catapulted it overnight into a virtually unassailable position in the market.)

  • 1960 

    • SAB extends its involvement in the liquor industry by acquiring control of Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery. Research funds are allocated for the study of viticulture to stimulate the development of more varieties of grape.

    • Union's 50th Jubilee celebrations shortlived – serious interracial confrontation erupts at Sharpeville, Vereeniging.

      Ohlsson's advert
  • 1961 

    • After five years of growth in beer consumption, albeit marginal, national volumes had only just reached 800,000 hectolitres.

      Following a nationwide referendum, South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth and becomes an independent republic.

  • 1962 

    • Prohibition lifted on consumption of liquor by black South Africans, opening the way for national availability of more responsible liquor alternatives. (Prohibition bred the usual 'moonshine magic' – a flourishing illicit industry where homemade 'brews' from backyard shebeens delivered some of the most hideous concoctions history has known: names like mampuru and skokiaan took their ignoble place in South African history.)

  • 1963 

    • Focused marketing activities start to remedy a decade-long static situation in beer consumption. SAB establishes a corporate identity for itself with its new head office on Braamfontein Ridge on the site of Ohlsson's 1902 Thoma brewery.

  • 1964 

    • SAB granted licence to brew Guinness in South Africa – the first company outside Ireland accorded this right.

  • 1965 

    • SAB reaches agreement with Amstel Brouwerij of Amsterdam to produce Amstel locally.

      Minority investment taken up in South West Breweries.

  • 1966 

    • Brewing of Carling Black Label begins under licence from the Carling Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

      Carling Black Label
    • Exorbitant excise duty increases once more devastate the beer industry, bringing SAB to a turning point in its history.

      SFW and Monis Wineries (wines, brandies and liqueurs) merged into Stellenbosch Wine Trust, but SAB compelled to reduce its holding to 34%.

    • SAB positions itself to redeploy surplus investment funds and to diversify its activities further through the formation of Barsab Investment Trust – a joint venture between SAB and Thos Barlow & Sons for acquisitions outside their mainstream activities, within the South African industrial sector.

  • 1967 

    • Through a newly-formed subsidiary, Food Corporation, SAB expands into the food sector, taking control of Hind Brothers and International Foods, and investing in tea and coffee through J Lyons and Glenton and Mitchell. (From record earnings of R7 million in 1966, attributable earnings, damaged by excessive excise duties, drop back to R6 million. An uninterrupted earnings growth track starts from 1968 and continues right up to the centenary year in 1995.)

  • 1969 

    • In exchange for its joint investment with Anglo American in the Carlton Centre project and other property interests, SAB acquires a 38% share in and management responsibility for Retco Limited, the largest property-owning and development company in the country.

      SAB established Swaziland Breweries.

    • Group's hotels and licensed house interests rationalised with the launch of Southern Sun Hotels.

      The Carlton Centre
  • 1970 

    • Stellenbosch Wine Trust acquires Sedgwick Tayler (brandies, gins and cane spirits).

      SAB opens South Africa's first sparkling beverage canning plant and launches the Groovy range to a receptive market.

    • SAB celebrates its 75th year by becoming fully incorporated in South Africa, with 80% of its shareholders South African – reinforcing its South African identity.

  • 1972 

    • South African market sees the entrance of a new, but short-lived local competitor – Luyt Breweries – salvaged and revitalised within a year by the Rembrandt Group as Intercontinental Breweries. (The so-called 'beer wars' raged on for some seven years, generating unprecedented interest in beer and stimulating marketing sophistication and innovation never seen before.)

  • 1973 

    • Barsab dismantled and SAB assumes control of its furniture and footware interests (Afcol and Shoecorp).

  • 1974 

    • South Africa excluded from the general assembly of the United Nations.

      Diversification into mass market retailing begins with the acquisition of OK Bazaars.

      Groovy Beverages sets up joint venture with Schweppes and then acquires bottling business of Pepsi-Cola.

    • A small taste change in Castle Lager impressed the brewers, but nearly cost the brand its life – the mistake was quickly reversed, hammering home the lesson that the brand does not belong to the brewer nor to the marketer, it belongs to the consumer.

  • 1975 

    • The stock market, becoming more selective in a period of economic slowdown, signals confusion with SAB's investment focus as the share price sinks to a low of 77 cents.

      Total reappraisal of SAB Group mission and structures commissioned, with corporate strategy input from international management consultants.

    • Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery once more becomes a wholly owned subsidiary.

      SAB acquires failed competitors, Whitbreads and Old Dutch.

  • 1976 

    • Separate listing made of Amalgamated Retail to handle the retailing interests of Associated Furniture Company and Shoecorp.

      Riots in Soweto and Cape Town signal serious protest against South Africa's apartheid system.

  • 1977 

    • Food, hot beverage and the remaining general property interests sold off to refine SAB's investment focus.

      Pepsi franchise replaced with Coca-Cola.

  • 1978 

    • Ground broken on Pilanesberg Casino Resort Project (Sun City).

    • Rhodesian interests consolidated into Delta Corporation.

      SAB publishes a code of non-discriminatory employment – a first in the country.

      Expansion into Botswana by acquiring, at the request of its government, a controlling interest in Kgalagadi Breweries from an unsuccessful German brewing group.

  • 1979 

    • South African liquor industry comprehensively restructured; SAB agrees to purchase the beer interests of the Rembrandt Group – giving it virtually 99% of the market. SAB requested to realign its investment in wines and spirits to 30% of Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery and 30% of Distillers Corporation, while disposing of its retail liquor outlets.

    • SAB moves into fruit juices, taking up a 49% interest in Appletiser from its Italian founder.

      Appletiser logo
  • 1981 

    • SAB completes its southern African beer involvement by securing a controlling interest in Lesotho Brewing Company and Maluti Mountain Brewery.

      People working in a hop field
    • The gold price soars to nearly US$1,000 per ounce, but collapses back to US$500.

      SAB makes its first diversified consumer goods acquisition since 1974 – the Scotts Stores retail apparel group.

  • 1982 

    • More aggressive move into retail clothing and accessories signalled by acquisition of Edgars fashion group.

      First step towards a megabrewery (annual capacity of over 6 million hectolitres by 1986) commissioned at Rosslyn, outside Pretoria.

      Control of Appletiser sold to SAB by Coca-Cola.

  • 1983 

    • As Zimbabwe's independence takes root, SAB forced to decrease interest in Delta Corporation to 25%. First investment away from the southern African subcontinent through beverages in the USA – sparkling and still beverages, and later, a niche beer, Rolling Rock (Record earnings of R200 million boosts market capitalisation to R2 billion.)

  • 1984 

    • Southern Sun awarded the Holiday Inns franchise – restructures its hotel interests, spinning off its Sun International casino resort activities.

      The Southern Sun
  • 1985 

    • South Africa's short-term banking facilities are suddenly called up, trade and cultural sanctions and boycotts are imposed, and the country becomes almost totally isolated. SAB activates complex defensive investment structures abroad – the Westgate International group makes its debut in Holland and the UK. (When other companies disinvested, SAB consistently ploughed investment into resources . . . when others lost faith, we publicly proclaimed our confidence in the future of South Africa and its people.)

  • 1986 

    • Joint venture with Ceres Fruit Juices establishes dominant juice business.

  • 1987 

    • The leading safety match manufacturer in Africa, Lion Match Company, acquired from disinvesting international investor.

  • 1988 

    • US beverage involvement reluctantly terminated, but resultant funds redeployed into brewing industry in the Canary Islands and the fruit juice industry in the UK.

  • 1989 

    • Da Gama Textiles Company, one of the largest textile manufacturers in South Africa, joins the SAB fold.

      Da Gama logo
  • 1990 

    • Prospect of a new era of racial harmony for South Africa ushered in with unbanning of opposition political parties and release of political prisoners. Massive megabrewery investment programme starts at Alrode, Prospecton and Newlands. Domestic beer volumes exceed 20 million hectolitres a year for the first time.

  • 1992 

    • Acquisition of control of Plate Glass group, leading manufacturer and distributor of glass and board products, with established automotive service operations on three continents, rounds off portfolio of selected manufacturing interests.

  • 1993 

    • Hungary's largest brewery, Dreher, acquired in beachhead move into central Europe.

      Tanzania Breweries – SAB formed a joint venture with the Tanzania Government.

  • 1994 

    • First fully democratic election held in South Africa and a five-year government of national unity takes office.

      South African map and flag
    • SAB invited to revitalise the beer industry in Tanzania – a joint venture with that country's government – and to re-enter beer markets of Zambia, Mozambique and, later, Angola.

      Joint control of the second-largest brewery in mainland China negotiated with China Resources, a privatisation arm of the government of the People's Republic of China.

  • 1995 

    • State President Nelson Mandela opens SAB's Centenary Centre in the cultural precinct of Johannesburg. (SAB celebrates 100 years with a share price of R100, market capitalisation of R30 billion and a record R10 billion in added value for the South African economy.)

    • SAB acquires a majority stake in LECH Brewery (Poznan, Poland).

      Nelson Mandela
  • 1996 

    • International equity raising of R2 billion strongly supported, a tribute to SAB's premier status. Market capitalisation of R48 billion makes SAB the largest industrial group in the country and one of the world's top brewing-based organisations.

    • Browary Tyskie Górny Slask SA is purchased.

      SAB enters the Romanian market with the purchase of the Vultural, Ursus and Pitber breweries.

  • 1997 

    • Recognising the need to enhance long-term shareholder value, SAB returns to its core beverage business, locally and internationally, selling off or closing non-core operations.

      SAB acquires a majority interest in Pivovar Saris in Slovakia.

  • 1998 

    • First corporate citizenship review published, reflecting SAB's real commitment to social responsibility to all stakeholders in all markets.

      SAB acquires the partially completed Kaluga Brewery, 112 miles southwest of Moscow.

  • 1999 

    • SAB moves its primary listing back to London, raising £300 million in international markets. The strategy is to develop and expand its international beer and other beverage operations and to invest in the rapidly growing gaming industry in South Africa. SAB is a FTSE 100 stock.

      SAB acquires controlling interest in Pilsner Urquell and Radegast, the leading brewers in the Czech Republic.

    • Kompania Piwowarska S.A. formed following the merger of Lech Browary Wielkopolski S.A. in Poznan and Browary Tyskie Górny Slask S.A. in Tyche.

      A skyscraper
  • 2000 

    • Total sales of beer and other beverages reached 77 million hectolitres – about 44,000 'drinks' or 300 ml every minute.

      SAB enters Indian market by acquiring Narang Breweries.

  • 2001 

    • Turnover from SAB's international operations now accounts for 42% of group turnover, a remarkable achievement in a relatively short period.

      A pan-African strategic alliance with the Castel group offers the opportunity to invest in promising new African markets and the benefits of scale economies.

    • SAB acquires a controlling 83.7% interest in Bere Timisoreana S.A., Romania.

      SAB became the first international brewer to enter Central America when it acquired Honduran brewer, Cervecería Hondureña; also, formed a joint venture with El Salvador Beverages Business, a brewery and sparkling beverage distributor.

      SABMiller's purchase of Zambia's National Breweries is approved.

  • 2002 

    • SABMiller plc formed as SAB plc acquires 100% of Miller Brewing Company (2nd largest brewery in United States by volume) and changes its name to SABMiller plc. Upon the acquisition, SABMiller becomes the second largest brewer (by volume) in the world.

      SABMiller plc and Tsogo Investment Holding Company announce landmark Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) transaction, transferring both companies' hotel and gaming interests into a new company, Tsogo Sun Holdings Limited.

  • 2003 

    • SABMiller's Polish subsidiary, Kompania Piwowarska, acquires a 98.8% equity interest in Browar Dojlidy (Bialystok, Poland).

      First significant SABMiller investment in Western Europe through key Italian market as SABMiller acquires a majority interest in Birra Peroni S.p.A.

      SABMiller acquires a 29.6% stake in Harbin Brewery Group.

      Swaziland Breweries, Imvelo and Swaziland Bottling Company combined to form Swaziland Beverages Ltd.

  • 2004 

    • Gains entry to Morocco and Algeria through Castel joint venture.

      Graham MacKay pouring a glass of Nastro Azzurro
    • SABMiller associate, China Resources Breweries Limited, acquires two Chinese breweries to strengthen foothold in Anhui province.

      SABMiller accepts an offer from Anheuser-Busch for shares in Harbin Brewery.

  • 2005 

    • SABMiller acquires a majority interest in Bavaria S.A., South America's second largest brewer.

      Through its local subsidiary, Mysore Breweries, SABMiller announces acquisition of Shaw Wallace & Company's share of its joint venture in India, and, in the process becomes the country's second largest brewer.

    • SABMiller announces acquisition of Topovar brewery in Slovakia.

      CR Snow, SABMiller's joint venture partner in China, acquires Fuyang City Snowland Brewery.

      Bavaria Brewries S.A
  • 2006 

    • CR Snow Breweries, SABMiller's joint venture in China, becomes the largest brewer in China by sales volume and by brewing capacity.

      Waitresses in traditional Chinese dress holding trays of Snow beer
    • SABMiller acquires the Foster's business and brand in India.

      SABMiller enters into a joint venture with Coca-Cola Amatil to allow international premium brands to be imported, marketed and distributed in Australia.

      SABMiller enters into a joint venture agreement with Vinamilk to establish a greenfield brewery in southern Vietnam.

  • 2007 

    • SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company sign a letter of intent to combine the US and Puerto Rico operations of their respective subsidiaries – Miller Brewing Company and Coors Brewing Company – to form a new venture, MillerCoors.

      SABMiller's Chinese joint venture operation CR Snow agrees to acquire four breweries in the country for a total investment cost of US$79m.

    • US subsidiary Miller Brewing Company announces plans to enter into a ten year licensed-brewing partnership with Foster's Group Limited to brew Foster's Lager and Special Bitter brands in the US.

      SABMiller's Russian operation invests US$170 million in the construction of a new brewery east of Moscow.

  • 2008 

    • SABMiller plc and Molson Coors Brewing Company announced the closing of the transaction to combine their US and Puerto Rico operations to create MillerCoors.

      SABMiller completes the acquisition of Koninklijke Grolsch N.V.

    • SABMiller announces the completion of the acquisition of Ukrainian brewer CJSC Sarmat.

      The construction of a new beverage plant in Juba, Southern Sudan is announced. The facility offers the capacity to brew clear beer and manufacture carbonated soft drinks.

  • 2009 

    • SABMiller's Romanian subsidiary, Ursus Breweries, acquires a 71% interest in the Romanian brewer Bere Azuga.

      CR Snow SABMiller's joint venture in China continues to expand with the acquisition of further breweries in Anhui, Liaoning and Zhejiang provinces and its first in Shandong province.

      SABMiller acquires the residual interest in its Vietnamese joint venture and the remaining minority interest in its Polish subsidiary Kompania Piwowarska.

    • SABMiller announces a proposed broad-based black economic empowerment transaction in South Africa, involving an equity issue of approximately 10% of The South African Breweries Limited and reflecting the group's long-standing commitment to socio-economic progress in South African society.

      SABMiller invests $250m for future growth in Angola, and opens a new $125m brewery and soft drinks plant.

    • SABMiller is granted a license by the Namibian government to brew and bottle beer in Namibia and announces plans to build a brewery in the country.

      SABMiller Africa acquires the Maheu beverage portfolio in Zambia including 'Super Maheu No.1', a non-alcoholic maize drink available in a variety of flavours.

      Following the success of its initiative to convert locally grown barley into brewing malt, SABMiller plc announces construction of a $16 million maltings plant in Uganda.

  • 2010 

    • SABMiller launches Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell in the Netherlands. Grolsch is launched in Romania, Miller Genuine Draft in Colombia and Kozel in the UK.

      SABMiller recommences reporting the results of its Zimbabwe associate, Delta Corporation Limited from 1 April.

      SABMiller Namibia (Pty) Limited announces it is to build a US$34 million brewery.

    • SABMiller announces that Pacific Beverages has commenced brewing at its US$105 million state of the art Bluetongue brewery in Warnervale, New South Wales, Australia

      A brewery
    • Southern Sudan Beverages Ltd (SSBL), a subsidiary of SABMiller, announces it is doubling the size of its existing brewery operations.

      SABMiller plc announces that it has acquired Cervecería Argentina S.A. Isenbeck (“CASA Isenbeck”), the third largest brewer in Argentina, from the Warsteiner Group.

  • 2011 

    • SABMiller announces that it is to build a new brewery in Nigeria and further invests in its Southern Sudan operations.

      SABMiller opens new £3 million research brewery in the UK, and in November launches Impala, the first cassava-based lager in Mozambique.

    • CR Snow continues expansion in China with acquisition of remaining equity interest in Hangzhou Xihu Beer and Huzhou Brewery and announces a new joint venture, Guizhou Moutai Beer, in partnership with China Kweichow Moutai Distillery Co. Ltd.

      SABMiller, Anadolu Group and Anadolu Efes agree a strategic alliance for Turkey, Russia, the CIS, Central Asia and the Middle East.

    • SABMiller acquires Foster's Group providing exposure to Australia's strong economic growth prospects, a leading position in the Australian beer industry, and the opportunity to apply SABMiller's capabilities and scale to improve Foster's financial and operating performance.

      A Foster's bottle