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CORPORATE MILESTONES

FMCG giant Tiger Brands celebrates a muted centenary year in 2021

By our News Team | 2021

It’s 100 years since the company began as a small family owned business in downtown Johannesburg. But African expansion hasn’t been easy.

Tiger Brands, the well-known South African-based FMCG giant, is celebrating its centenary this year, meaning it joins the ranks of some the country’s oldest surviving businesses.

Among its brands that have resonated with consumers in its home market and elsewhere in Africa are Black Cat peanut butter, Jungle Oats and Koo canned food products.

“We are humbled that, through our brands, well-entrenched in the fabric of South African society, we have been part of special and memorable events in the lives of so many South Africans over a hundred years,” said CEO Noel Doyle.

“As we start our next century, we look forward to being part of many more of these moments across South Africa and into Africa.” 

Tiger Brands began its journey as a small family-owned business in 1921, based in Newtown, Johannesburg. In 1925 the company, then known as Tiger Oats Limited, launched a breakfast oatmeal brand called Jungle Oats which featured the iconic tiger in the grass logo.

Corporate milestones

Tiger Brands logo via Wikipedia

In the decades to follow, Tiger Brands grew through acquisitions and clustering of businesses that cover food, home and personal care brands to become one of Africa’s largest listed manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods. Several of the company’s iconic brands have been in existence for close to a century or more.

The roar has diminished recently

More recent years, however, have seen Tiger’s roar diminish somewhat – as the publication Biznews recently explained.

“Comparing Tiger Brands 2021 numbers to 2016’s paints a bleak picture. Revenue is slightly lower but, more alarmingly, headline earnings per share – the company’s primary measure of performance – is down by around 50%. Although Tiger Brands spun off its 42% stake in Oceana during the period under review, not being able to grow its topline over a five-year period leaves much to ponder. But where did it all go wrong?”

Biznews continues: “Management decided to embark on an African growth story. Many of the management teams on the JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange), in various industries, had a similar idea. Nigeria was an attractive jurisdiction with the country’s high growth rates. In 2011, Tiger Brands bought a 49% minority stake in UAC Foods and, in 2012, a 65.7% stake in Dangote Industries; both Nigerian-based businesses. 

“Many JSE-listed counters have lost money in Africa and Tiger Brands is no exception. The stakes of both businesses have since been sold. During this time, management’s focus on growth led to a steady decline in its brands, which have continued to lose market share over the past few years.”

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