User Menu

Fyffes timeline: A short history of the banana giant

From humble Scottish beginnings to €750 million Japanese takeover

A bunch of Fyffes bananas pictured outside the company’s head office in Dublin. The Irish fruit giant is to be acquired by Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation in a deal which values the firm at €751 million. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

1789: Henry Fyffe leaves the family base in Perth, Scotland, to move to London to set up as a “grocer and tea dealer”.

1887: Edward Wathen Fyffe, Henry’s great grandson, takes his wife Ida to the Canary Islands to recover from tuberculosis. While there, he is impressed by the quality of the bananas and decides he will set up an import agency in London for growers looking for new markets.

1888: Edward’s first tiny shipment of two bunches of bananas arrives at the offices in London. The business grows so fast that Edward soon has no time for tea.

1900: The first Fyffe bananas reach Ireland.

1901: The company merges with Elder Dempster and Company to form Elders and Fyffes.

1902: Charles McCann sets up a greengrocers on Clanbrassil Street in Dundalk to become the first agent in Ireland for Fyffes, the then fledgling London-based banana importer.

1956: The McCanns bring a fragmented group of fruit wholesalers and distributors together under the United Fruit Importers of Ireland.

1981: Floated on the Irish Stock Exchange as FII plc.

1986: Acquires Fyffes global brand from US rival Chiquita.

1990: Name changes to simply Fyffes plc.

1996: Company acquires banana business from Geest Plc.

1999: Company acquires 50 per cent of Capespan Holdings International.

2000: Company launches worldoffruit.com website.

2002: Fyffes takes legal action against DCC plc over its sale of a stake in the firm.

May 2006: Firm spins off its property portfolio to a separate firm, Blackrock International Land plc. It retains a 40 per cent share in the new entity. Blackrock changed its name to Balmoral International Land plc in October 2010.

January 2007: Firm spins off its fresh produce business as Total Produce plc. The McCanns currently hold an 11.6 per cent stake in the firm.

October 2014: Fyffes fails in a high-profile bid to win the hand of Chiquita two years ago in what would have been a $1 billion deal. The target was ultimately bought by Brazilian juicemaker Grupo Cutrale and investment firm Safra Group.

October 2016: David McCann has dinner at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin with Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation.

December 9th, 2016: Fyffes agrees that the world’s oldest banana brand will be gobbled up by a corporate gorilla in a deal worth €751 million.