Real Leaders

Top 10 Oldest Companies in the World That Are Still Open For Business

We live in a time when long-established companies all around the world are finding that keeping up with the rapid pace of change is too much to handle. Retail giants are collapsing because we all shop online, airlines and travel businesses are finding that our evolving lifestyles have left them behind and the leaders of almost every other type of company you can think of is desperately playing catch-up with tech upstarts that are changing the ball game on a weekly basis.

All of this is why it is so remarkable that there are businesses out there that date back well over a hundred years. Think Coca-Cola, which has been around 130 years and remains a market-leading soft drink all over the globe. But the reality is that Coke is still a relative baby compared to some of the world’s oldest countries. So which are the oldest companies from (almost) every country on the planet?

Here are the 10 top oldest companies in the world that are still open for business:

YEARCOUNTRYCOMPANY NAMEINDUSTRY
578JapanKongō GumiConstruction company
803AustriaSt. Peter Stifts KulinariumRestaurant
862GermanyStaffelter HofWinery
864FranceMonnaie de ParisMint
886EnglandThe Royal MintMint
900IrelandSean’s BarPub
1040ItalyPontificia Fonderia MarinelliBell foundry
1074BelgiumAffligem BreweryBrewery
1135DenmarkMunke MølleMill
1153ChinaMa Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken HouseRestaurant

1. Oldest companies in Europe

Compared to America, European societies have a lot of history, so it’s no surprise that there are some seriously old businesses to be found there and sometimes found in the most unlikely places. St Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, Austria is the home of Europe’s oldest business that’s still going – St. Peter Stifts Kulinarium, an inn that first opened way back in 803, making it the oldest restaurant in the continent that still serves customers today, just like it did when the likes of Christopher Columbus and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ate there in centuries long past.

Having longevity in your business means being able to adapt to circumstances, even if your business is only a few decades old. For Monnaie de Paris, founded in 864 as France’s mint, there have been many changes to adapt to even in the last 100 years, which have seen it producing Francs and now Euros but also German currency during the occupation in World War II.

2. Oldest companies in North America

We may think of North America as a relatively young continent, but its oldest companies still date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. In Mexico it’s another mint, the La Casa de Moneda de México, which is still producing currency today having been founded in 1534. It’s a highly influential mint too, with its original coins having inspired not only the US dollar, but also currencies as geographically distant as the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan. 

Up in the USA, the oldest company still going today is the Shirley Plantation, started in 1638 by Edward Hill, which is not only still a working plantation today – as well as a tourist attraction of course – but is also managed by his descendents all these centuries later. Every business founder dreams of their children following in their footsteps, but who could imagine that kind of legacy?

3. Oldest Companies in South America

As in North America, South America’s oldest company that’s still going today is a mint. There’s clearly a lesson there in terms of future-proofing your business. While we may be moving towards a contactless payment future, cash remains an important part of our daily lives all around the world, so finding a niche that is going to keep your business relevant for centuries rather than as a passing fad has to be the goal of any prospective business leader.

4. Oldest Companies in Asia

All of these companies mentioned so far may be very, very old, but still don’t come close to Asia’s oldest business. Kongo Gumi was founded in 578 by a Korean temple builder invited to Japan by the royal family to help build Buddhist temples. It was very much a niche skill at the time in that country and helped establish a family business that stayed in the family all the way up to the 21st Century when it was finally bought by a construction conglomerate.

Established almost five centuries later but still older than most of the companies around today is Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House, a chicken takeaway restaurant in Kaifeng China, which dates back to 1153. Hopefully the chickens it serves today haven’t been around for nine centuries.

5. Oldest Companies in Africa

Civilization apparently dates back to Africa, but its oldest businesses still operating today aren’t quite so old as that. The oldest is the Mauritius Post, which opened in 1772 to deliver mail around what was a French colony at the time. NamPost in Namibia is another early postal service on the continent, having been founded in 1814 to help people across the country keep in touch.

6. Oldest Companies in Oceania

Speaking of post offices, the oldest company in Oceania is also one set up to deal with mail. Now known as AusPost after the merger of several smaller services, it dates back to 1809 when a former convict Isaas Nichols was put in charge of New South Wales’ post, which mostly meant stopping people from stealing it when it arrived at port. Now that is leading by example.Which of the companies set up today by inspirational leaders do you think might one day have lasted as long as some of these businesses

METHODOLOGY & SOURCES

To create these maps, we started by reviewing various sources on the internet to locate the oldest company in each country. Once we had a list of business for each country we began researching each individual company to discover if they are still operational. If we were unsure about a company or could not discern if it was still open, we did not include it in the maps. We included both independent and state-run businesses in this list. This includes national mints, which produced coins for merchants and international customers as well as the state.

Those countries where it wasn’t possible to identify the oldest business have been greyed-out on the map. Additionally, some countries have changed names or didn‘t exist at the time the oldest company opened. In all cases we have used the current country names.

We created broad industry categorisations that grouped similar businesses together. Every step has been taken to ensure that the information contained within our research is as accurate as possible. However, it is possible that there are businesses still operating that predate the ones listed here.

This story was compiled by BusinessFinancing.co.uk.

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