The story of DFI Retail Group dates back to 19th century Hong Kong, when Scottish surgeon Sir Patrick Manson and five businessmen embarked on a venture to improve the health of the Hong Kong community by breeding imported cattle locally, and to ensure a daily supply of disease-free fresh milk at an affordable price - a challenging move as the herd had to adapt to Hong Kong's sub-tropical climate. From such modest beginnings, DFI has expanded and reinvented itself over the decades to become one of Asia's most dynamic and reputable companies. Today, DFI is primarily into retailing with a focus on supermarkets, hypermarkets, health and beauty stores, convenience stores, home furnishings stores and restaurants. The Group commands a leadership position in many key Asian markets and has upheld its principles for quality products, business integrity and commitment to the community. These historical milestones highlight key dates and events and are a record of the many defining moments in the making of a very unique and special company.
The Dairy Farm Company Limited is incorporated in Hong Kong by Scottish surgeon Sir Patrick Manson and five prominent Hong Kong businessmen, with a capital of HK$30,000 and 80 head of cattle. The Company's founding objectives were: to improve the health of Hong Kong people by supplying clean and uncontaminated cows' milk at an affordable price and to realise a profit for its shareholders.
Dairy Farm posts a profit of HK$3,385 in 1888, following a HK$13,187 loss in its first year. In 1889, profits improved to HK$4,374.
Dairy Farm establishes a Central depot in Lower Albert Road. The building now houses the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Fringe Club.
Dairy Farm starts importing butter from Australia.
Dairy Farm starts rearing pigs and fowl to provide pork, poultry and eggs. It begins supplying in bulk to ships, hospitals and the military.
Dairy Farm opens its first retail store at Lower Albert Road. It begins importing frozen meat from Australia.
Dairy Farm buys Butterfield and Swire's frozen food business, its first major corporate acquisition.
Dairy Farm's central depot is reorganized to form Hong Kong's first supermarket/delicatessen.
Dairy Farm opens a second store in Manson House, Nathan Road, Kowloon. It buys the Hong Kong Ice Company and changes its name to The Dairy Farm, Ice & Cold Storage Company Limited.
Dairy Farm builds a state-of-the-art ice factory at East Point.
Dairy Farm is now producing 1,000 gallons of milk daily, as well as fresh meat, cream and ice cream. It operates six retail stores in Hong Kong and delivers to consumers in Macau and the major coastal Chinese cities.
Dairy Farm's 50th anniversary. The Company introduces protective capping on bottles. This enhances its already renowned reputation for strict hygiene.
Dairy Farm opens new offices in the first Windsor House on Des Voeux Road, Central. Japan invades Hong Kong.
END OF WORLD WAR II. Hong Kong is liberated. Dairy Farm quickly recovers and records a net profit of HK$1,519,292.
Dairy Farm launches an aircraft catering kitchen at Kai Tak Airport.
Dairy Farm and Lane Crawford merge their respective food retailing operations to form Dairy Lane Limited.
Dairy Farm acquires the Wellcome grocery chain founded in 1945 by Wu Chung-hai and Lau Lin. It buys out Lane Crawford's share of Dairy Lane Limited.
Dairy Farm begins its overseas expansion. It takes stakes in various Australian companies. It opens an aircraft catering kitchen in Guam, buys the Simarloo fruit and nut farm and a beef ranch in Australia, and expands its catering services to mining camps in Australia and Indonesia. It enters the wholesaling sector and extends its range of dairy products and frozen foods on sale.
Dairy Farm Is acquired by Hongkong Land. It retains its independence, its established operating structure and corporate personality. Phil Oram remains as Managing Director until his retirement in 1981.
Dairy Farm acquires Singapore-based Fitzpatrick's Food Supplies (Far East) Ltd.
Dairy Farm acquires 51 percent of Manning Dispensary Ltd, a chain of three pharmacies run by a Hong Kong medical practice. Central Depot reverts to the crown, ending its 72-year association with Dairy Farm.
Dairy Farm signs an agreement to obtain 18 tonnes of daily milk supplies from the Kwangming farm in Shenzhen. It acquires Franklins' chain of 75 "No Frills" stores in Australia.
Dairy Farm makes history by forging the first ever Sino-Foreign joint venture following Deng Xiaoping's Open Door reforms. The joint venture operates the flight kitchen for Beijing Airport.
Phil Oram retires. Owen Price takes over as Dairy Farm's Managing Director.
The end of an era. Dairy Farm's herd of cows at Pokfulam are sold off. Dairy Farm begins disposing of its Australian farming and ranching interests.
Dairy Farm signs an ice-cream factory JV with the Guangdong Foods Industry Corp. to form the Guangzhou Refrigerated Foods Ltd.
Dairy Farm's centenary. In December, the Company is demerged from Hongkong Land and re-listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. As part of the demerger, Dairy Farm takes over a 50 percent interest in Maxim's from Hongkong Land.
Dairy Farm acquires 25 percent of Kwik Save - the sixth largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom. It begins supermarket operations in Taiwan.
Dairy Farm acquires the 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores in Hong Kong from Jardine Matheson. It sells the Simarloo Farm.
Dairy Farm acquires the 108-store Simago Supermarket chain in Spain and the 61-store supermarket chain, Woolworths, in New Zealand.
Dairy Farm opens five 7-Eleven stores in Shenzhen. It sells 51 percent of its dairy manufacturing businesses in Hong Kong and Guangzhou to Nestlé. Nestlé buys the Dairy Farm brand name and licenses it back to the Company for 50 years.
Dairy Farm buys Singapore Cold Storage with a network of 142 stores. Owen Price retires as Managing Director. Graeme Seabrook takes the reins.
Dairy Farm signs a letter of intent to set up three supermarkets in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and forms a 50-50 supermarket JV with Cold Storage (Malaysia).
Dairy Farm establishes four Wellsave supermarkets in Japan through a 60 percent-owned JV (closed in 1997). It opens five JV Wellcome Gintian supermarkets in Shenzhen (closed in 1999). Dairy Farm signs a Technical Assistance Agreement with RPG Spencers, which operates eight Foodworld supermarkets, in India. In Indonesia, it forges a Technical Assistance Agreement with Mitra, a chain of discount stores owned by the PT Hero group.
Graeme Seabrook retires. Chris Nelson is appointed interim Chief Executive.
Chris Nelson retires. Ronald J Floto is appointed Group Chief Executive. Dairy Farm opens a 50-50 JV health and beauty chain, Health and Glow, in India and reaches a Technical Assistance Agreement in Indonesia, with Rajawali, to run the Guardian pharmacy chain. It sells its remaining 49 percent stake in Nestlé Dairy Farm to Nestlé.
Dairy Farm disposes of Kwik Save in the UK, the Simago chain in Spain and closes down Mannings in Taiwan. It buys 32 percent of PT Hero, a 71-store supermarket chain in Indonesia, and opens a Géant hypermarket in Taiwan, a JV with Casino of France. In Malaysia, it increases its stakes in the Wellsave supermarket chain and in the 59-store Guardian pharmacies giving it control of both.
Dairy Farm acquires 90 percent of Giant Malaysia with two hypermarkets and five supermarkets. In India, it acquires a 49 percent holding in the Foodworld supermarket chain.
Dairy Farm sells its 50 percent interest in DFI Géant in Taiwan to JV partner, Casino. It acquires 23 Apex stores in Singapore, which are folded into its Guardian operations, and expands its supermarket operations in Taiwan with the acquisition of 12 Maysoon stores.
Dairy Farm completes the sale of Franklins and its Hong Kong-based wholesaling business, Sims Trading. It acquires the remaining 10 percent of Giant Malaysia. Its 65 percent-held JV, Guangdong Sai Yi Convenience Stores Ltd, becomes the first convenience store JV to obtain approval from the Central Government to operate in Southern China.
Dairy Farm completes the sale of Woolworths, New Zealand. It forms a 50/50 JV with the CJ Corporation, investing US$5 million in the health and beauty chain, Olive Young in South Korea. It acquires IKEA Hong Kong and Taiwan from Jardine Matheson.
Dairy Farm acquires the 22-store Kayo supermarket chain in Taiwan. Its Indonesian associate, PT Hero, acquires 22 Tops supermarkets from Ahold. It also acquires 34 Tops supermarkets in Malaysia from Ahold, which are rebranded as Giant and Cold Storage. In Singapore, it acquires 35 Shop N Save supermarkets increasing its supermarket network to 75 stores.
Dairy Farm acquires the Daily Stop chain of convenience stores in Hong Kong and rebrands them under the 7-Eleven name. It sells its last non-retail business, ice manufacturing.
Dairy Farm Increases its attributable interest in PT Hero in Indonesia to 69 percent following two tender offers and the purchase of a minority shareholding. In India, it introduces new JV partners in Foodworld and Health and Glow. It enters the Thai market with the opening of its first Guardian stores. 7-Eleven and Mannings enter the Macau market in the same year. Dairy Farm posts an underlying net profit of US$190 million.
Dairy Farm's 120th anniversary. It marks the milestone by sponsoring the conversion of two of the original octagonal cowsheds in the old Pokfulam farm into a performance area and cinema space, named the Wellcome Theatre, by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The facility contains a 150-seat auditorium and an adjacent foyer/exhibition area.
Ronald J Floto retires. Michael Kok is appointed Group Chief Executive. 7-Eleven South China acquires 110 Quik convenience stores in Guangzhou rebranding them as 7-Eleven. 7-Eleven Hong Kong launches its new concept store focusing on fresh and fast food. A three-year refurbishment programme commences to convert the majority of the 822 outlets into the "fresh food" format.
Mannings China opens its first stores outside Guangdong province in Beijing City. During the year, Mannings China also extended its reach to Nanjing, Chongqing and Shanghai. The first Giant hypermarket was opened in Brunei, offering lower prices and greater choices for customers.
7-eleven South China opens its 550th store in New City Zhujiang, Guangzhou on 16th October. Mannings Hong Kong reaches a milestone by opening its 300th store in December.
Giant opens its first supermarkets in Brunei to complement existing hypermarkets and health and beauty stores.
Maxim's opens its first Chinese restaurants in Shanghai and Guangzhou, and adds three Genki Sushi outlets in Shenzhen and Guangzhou during the year. In Vietnam, five new Guardian outlets are opened during the year. Dairy Farm's Indonesia business passes the 500-store milestone in the country during the year.
Michael Kok retires. Dairy Farm enters the Cambodian market through the acquisition of a 70% interest in a company that operates seven Lucky supermarkets and nine fast food outlets in the country. Dairy Farm also enters the Philippines market by acquiring a 50% interest in Rustan's Supercenters, which operates ten Shopwise hypermarkets, 13 Rustan's supermarkets and nine Expresslanes supermarkets.
Graham Allan is appointed Group Chief Executive. Shop N Save supermarkets in Singapore are converted to the Giant brand. Maxim's opens its first Starbucks store in Vietnam. A joint venture is established to operate mini-marts in Malaysia trading as 'G EKSPRES'. The first Guardian health and beauty store opens in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Dairy Farm divests its 49% shareholding in Foodworld and 50% shareholding in Health and Glow to its joint venture partner. The Group acquires an additional 16% interest in Rustan in the Philippines, bringing its ownership to 66%. An agreement is reached to establish a strategic partnership with Yonghui Superstores Co., Ltd and to acquire a 19.99% shareholding in the company at approximately US$925 million. Dairy Farm enters the Philippines Health and Beauty market through the acquisition of a 49% stake in Rose Pharmacy Inc. The first IKEA store opens in Indonesia.
Dairy Farm meets the local regulatory requirements in Malaysia with the divestment of 30% of the ordinary shares in its food retail business, GCH Malaysia. Dairy Farm also acquires the 15-store supermarket chain in Macau, San Miu, reinforcing its well-established retail presence in the territory. Maxim’s launches operations in Cambodia as a franchisee of Starbucks at the end of 2015.
Maxim’s acquires the franchise of the Italian patisserie and restaurant COVA in Hong Kong and Macau. Maxim’s also opens the first “The Cheesecake Factory” restaurant in Shanghai Disney Resort and launches the first mx cakes and bakery franchise through joint venture in Thailand. IKEA creates new pick-up points in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to provide more convenient options for its customers closer to home.
Ian Mcleod is appointed Group Chief Executive. The Philippines Rustan becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary following the acquisition of the remaining interest from the Group’s joint venture partner. Maxim’s acquires the existing businesses and franchises of Genki Sushi in Singapore and Malaysia, and of Starbucks in Singapore. Maxim’s also opens its first The Cheesecake Factory in Hong Kong.
Dairy Farm Group rebrands as the DFI Retail Group and launches new logo