The Molson Coors Brewing Company (MCBC) is a partly Canadian-owned enterprise and one of the world's largest beer makers. Its Canadian arm, Molson Coors Canada, is the successor to Molson Breweries, one of the country's oldest companies.
English immigrant and entrepreneur John Molson established his brewery on the banks of the St. Lawrence River at Montréal in 1786. His beer was popular in the colony and the company grew rapidly. Although beer remained Molson's primary business, he and his sons invested in other areas, owning a lumber yard, plus steamboats to transport goods between what is now Québec and Ontario, and even the Molson Bank (later merged with the Bank of Montreal) to issue loans to Montréal business merchants.
The company remained under family control through successive generations. It was incorporated in 1930 as Molson's Brewery Ltd, then became Molson Breweries Ltd in 1962, Molson Industries Ltd in 1968, and Molson Companies Ltd in 1973. The name changes reflected the changing nature of the company. From 1967 onward it acquired interests in diversified enterprises including retail merchandising (Beaver Lumber Company Ltd and Home Depot Canada), marketing of specialty chemicals (Diversey Corp) and sports and entertainment industries.
By the 1990s Molson was the major Canadian retailer of lumber, building materials and related hard goods, and marketed more than 3,000 cleaning and sanitizing products in more than 100 countries.
In 1993 Molson Breweries and American beer giant Miller Brewing Company announced a strategic alliance aimed at making Molson a major player in the American market. That same decade Molson also sold its stakes in many of its non-brewing businesses, including Beaver Lumber and Home Depot.
In 2005 the company purchased the Ontario boutique brewery Creemore Springs. It also announced a blockbuster merger with US-based Coors, creating the Molson Coors Brewing Company, headquartered in Denver, Colorado and Montréal, with Canadian executive offices in Toronto. In 2007, Molson Coors announced a joint venture with the global brewer SABMiller to sell beer in the US under the name MillerCoors.
Family Tradition Continues
By 2014 Molson Coors had operations in the United Kingdom, eastern Europe and east Asia, in addition to its North American business. Brewing had once again become its principal focus; the company produced about 2.5-billion litres of beer annually worldwide, with Molson Canadian, Coors and Coors Light among its leading brands.
The Molson family remained closely connected with the company. Andrew Molson was vice-chairman of the MCBC board, and his brother Geoff (also president of the Montreal Canadiens hockey club) was a member of the MCBC board.
As of 2014 the Canadian division, Molson Coors Canada (trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange as TPX.B), operated breweries in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. It accounted for about 40 per cent of the Canadian beer market through brands such as Molson Canadian, Coors Light and Rickard's. The division's 2012 pre-tax income, as reported in US dollars, was $423-million.