Our history dates back to the 1950s when Harry Pencer’s children were introduced to Cott Black Cherry soda during their summers at Camp Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. In 1952, Harry Pencer began importing Cott sodas into Canada and, three years later, established Cott Beverages Ltd., to bottle beverages in Quebec. Later that decade, Cott became the first company in the world to launch a diet soft drink, developing a formula by request for diabetic patients at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, Quebec.
Our entry into retailer brand beverages occurred in 1984, when Cott secured the business of A&P, Canada’s largest grocery chain at the time. In the early 1990s, we expanded our retailer brand business into the US, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as our first customer.
In 1986, Cott became a publicly-traded company with listings on the Toronto and Montreal stock exchanges and six years later, Cott shares began trading in the United States on the NASDAQ exchange.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Cott made a series of acquisitions including Vess Beverages and Concord Beverages (with its well-known Vintage brand) in the US, and moved into the United Kingdom with the purchases of Benjamin Shaw & Sons Ltd. and Hero Drinks Group. Cott later entered Mexico with a joint venture that established manufacturing and marketing capabilities in that country.
We reached an important milestone in 2001, with the purchase of our retailer brand CSD formulations, the RC International business and our concentrate manufacturing and research and development facility from Cadbury Schweppes, making Cott a truly integrated beverage company.
Our rapid growth, both through acquisition and strong organic business growth, led the Company to move Cott's US listing to the New York Stock Exchange in 2002.
In 2005, we completed the acquisition of Macaw Soft Drinks in the UK, the largest acquisition in our history. The addition of Macaw nearly doubled our UK business and gave Cott its first inroad into aseptic, or preservative-free, drink production.
In recent years, Cott has successfully expanded into new and fast-growing beverage segments, including energy drinks and ready-to-drink teas, in both retailer brands and Cott's own value brands such as Orient Emporium Tea Co. The addition of a second aseptic production line in the UK in 2007 provided additional capacity for popular preservative-free juice and juice-based drinks. Expansion into new channels such as gas, convenience and quick-serve restaurants has added new opportunities for growth, and a strategic focus on international and emerging markets is helping to shape Cott's future.
For more than 50 years, Cott has grown and prospered. We've built a strong foundation as one of the world's largest non-alcoholic beverage companies and we continue to partner with our customers to provide exceptional value, innovation and taste experiences to consumers around the world.