Some businesses that exist today have endured for over 1,000 years.
A new list of the world’s most long-lived companies—the oldest companies still in operation—show the central importance of money and food.
A large proportion of the companies on the list are currency minting operations (the only entities that literally make money) or banks. In Europe, for example, France’s oldest is the mint Monnaie de Paris, founded in 864. Slovakia has the Kremnica Mint, founded 1328. The oldest in the Americas is La Casa De Moneda de Mexico, 1534, followed by Casa Nacional de Moneda of Peru, 1565. Banks of one kind or another, including central banks, are the oldest entities in more than a dozen countries across the African continent.
Another large chunk of the list is wineries, breweries, distillers and restaurants. Austria’s St. Peter Stiftskulinarium, a restaurant founded in 803 inside St. Peter’s Abbey in Saltzburg, is the single oldest institution in Europe, but not that much older than Germany’s Staffelter Hof Winery (862), or Sean’s Bar in Ireland (900). China’s oldest company is, according to the list, also a restaurant: Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House, founded in 1153, well before Kentucky existed. Uruguay’s oldest is Café Brasilero (1877). House of Angostura, makers of the famous bitters, is oldest in Trinidad & Tobago (1830). Rum makers Rhum Barbancourt (Haiti, 1862) and Mount Gay Rum (Barbados, 1703) are the longest-running companies in their respective countries.
After finance and food/beverages, post services and railroads or airlines are most well-represented: Mauritius Post (1772), for example, is the oldest company on the entire African continent; Australia Post (1809) is the oldest in Oceania.
Then there are some interesting one-offs. In the United States it’s Shirley Plantation (1638), which today boosts its agricultural income with tourism. In South America, Chile’s oldest company is Famae, an acronym for “factories and workshops of the army,” a state-owned weapons manufacturer. Russia’s oldest company is the Petrodvorets Watch Factory (1721).
There are many more delightful details and beautiful multicolor visualizations in this research from Business Financing in the UK. Check out the full report here.