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Our history – a timeline

We were founded in 1902 – find out what’s happened in the past 114 years.

  • 1902

    1902

    When the UK’s Imperial Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Company of the United States form a joint venture, the British American Tobacco Company. James ‘Buck’ Duke becomes the company’s first chairman. His strategy is to devise a superior product, hire the best people to make it, price it as low as possible, and mechanise production.

  • 19041911

     

    A period of rapid expansion sees us develop markets in the West Indies, India, Ceylon, Egypt, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Indonesia, East Africa and Malaya.

  • 1905

    1905

    The acquisition of a majority share in Cairo-based cigarette manufacturer, Maspero Freres Company, allows us to expand our export trade of cigarettes made from Turkish tobacco into India and Europe.

  • 1910

     

    Our cigarettes sales now exceed 10 billion per year.

  • 1911

     

    The American Tobacco Company divests its shares in the joint venture and we are listed on the London Stock Exchange for the first time.

  • 1915

    1915

    Sales total 25 billion cigarettes per year, as the additional demand from the armed forces for tobacco stretches our manufacturing capacity to the limit

  • 1921

     

    Cigarrera Bigott Sucs is formed in Venezuela and, in the following few years, acquisitions are made in Chile, Mexico and Central America.

  • 1927

     

    Our 25th anniversary. We have become one of the UK’s leading companies, with 120 subsidiaries.

  • 1932

     

    We have factories in most countries and develop independent distribution networks, which become fully-fledged subsidiaries. Leaf-growing and manufacturing operations are established in India, China, Brazil and Nigeria and Haus Bergmann is acquired in Germany.

  • 1939

     

    The outbreak of the Second World War severely disrupts our global operations.

  • 1942

    Our History 1942

    Profits that were static at £5.5 million right through the depression go down to £3 million until the war ends.

  • 19531955

    Our History 1953-1955

    A return to growth sees us rank third among British, French and German companies, measured by company profits.

  • 1960

     

    Global sales exceed 280 billion cigarettes with trading profits of more than £58 million.

  • 19611965

    Our History 1961-1965

    We begin to diversify with moves into the paper, cosmetics and food industries.

  • 1966

     

    We acquire cigar manufacturer Henri Wintermans and company profits exceed £100 million for the first time.

  • 19701973

     

    We move into retailing with acquisitions, including Argos in the UK and Saks Fifth Avenue in the USA.

  • 1976

     

    BAT Industries is formed. Within two years it is the UK’s third biggest company. Annual sales increase to 500 billion cigarettes.

  • 1981

     

    Trading profits from the tobacco operations triple over the previous decade to more than £463 million.

  • 19841989

     

    BAT Industries acquires Eagle Star, Allied Dunbar and Farmers Group to become the largest UK-based insurance group.

  • 1992

    Our History 1992

    Hungary’s Pecsi Dohanygyar is acquired. Acquisitions and joint ventures follow rapidly in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the Czech Republic, Russia, Romania and Poland.

  • 1994

     

    The prestigious Lucky Strike and Pall Mall brands are now added to our portfolio, with the acquisition of the American Tobacco Company.

  • 1998

     

    BAT Industries divests its financial services businesses. British American Tobacco becomes a separately quoted company on the London Stock Exchange.

  • 1999

    Our History 1999

    Following a global merger with Rothmans International we gain several major brands, including Dunhill.

  • 2001

     

    New investments in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Vietnam and South Korea.

  • 2004

     

    Brown & Williamson and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company combine and Reynolds American is formed – a stronger, more sustainable business in which we have a 42% share.

  • 2008

     

    We acquire the assets of Tekel, the Turkish state tobacco company.

  • 2011

     

    Major acquisition of Protabaco in Colombia for US$452 million. The Group establishes Nicoventures Limited, a company to focus exclusively on the development and commercialisation of innovative, regulatory approved nicotine products.

  • 2012

     

    UK-based company CN Creative, who specialise in the development of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) technologies, are acquired.

  • 2013

    Vype

    CTBAT International Limited, a joint investment of subsidiaries of China National Tobacco Corporation and British American Tobacco commences trading. The Group launches its first e-cigarette product, Vype, in the UK.

  • 2014

     

    The Group announces it will invest US$4.7 billion as part of Reynolds American Inc.'s acquisition of Lorillard. The deal means we will maintain our 42% stake in the enlarged and substantially stronger Reynolds American business in the US.

  • 2015

    Vype eTank

    We complete a number of investments and strategic partnerships focused on future growth. The Group acquires TDR in Croatia, the leading independent cigarette manufacturer in Central Europe. We also acquire the remaining shares in our Brazilian subsidiary, Souza Cruz, that we don’t already own.

    Highlighting our commitment to lead in Next Generation Products, we acquire CHIC Group, a market-leading Vapour Product (e-cigarette) business in Poland. We continue to develop Vype with new products and expansion into new markets, and we launch our first Tobacco Heating Product, glo iFuse, in Romania.

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