Anchored to a ‘Heritage of Trust’ and a pioneering spirit, Browns is a story of an adaptable, resilient, and transformative enterprise. Over a period of one-and-a-half centuries, Browns has energised many vital sectors of the Sri Lankan economy. The legend of Browns is tightly interwoven with the fortunes of the modern Sri Lankan economy. The Group, at every stage of its history, has provided impetus to the local economy. Browns Group was an early catalyst in the plantation sector which put Sri Lanka on the map of the global economy. As the plantation economy rapidly advanced, Browns Group expanded its business activities into engineering, transport, logistics, commerce, and, most importantly, financial services. Browns constantly reinvents itself and refreshes its brand portfolio in line with the emerging demands of the economy.
Brown & Company was incorporated in Hatton by founder James Browns - with a small mechanical engineering workshop
The first branch of the Company was opened in Maskeliya
Site at Hatton
On learning that the Railway was to be extended beyond Nawalapitiya, James Brown selected the excellent site at Hatton for an engineering business by opening this branch.
A large measure of success was achieved by the firm in the early days, and on the advent of the Tea Industry the business increased rapidly. To the original Engineering establishment was gradually added the General Stores and Chemists, the business being confined to Hatton in the Dikoya District.
Limited Liability Company
In view of the rapidly increasing business and the necessity for further capital, a Limited Liability Company was formed with a nominal capital of Rs. 500,000 with James Browns being the Chairman.
The Great Loss
Death of our founder James Brown was a great loss to the Company. However, another great move was made by the company during the year by opening Lanka Works in Colombo, a block of buildings in Queen Street, Fort, being acquired.
Large Engineering Establishments
With the rapid expansion, it was necessary to lease a very valuable site in Chatham Street once occupied by Maitland & Co. of early fame, on which they built the existing fine block, having already (1900) purchased the Lanka Works, Union Place, where a large Engineering establishment was formed.
Adam’s Peak Hotel
The Adam’s Peak Hotel, Hatton was purchased by the Company to prevent it being taken over by parties who were likely to take up General Trading Business.
The London office of the Company was opened.
Acquisition of Horbury House was carried through, following the opening of the London office.
All the Engineering establishments of the business were transferred to the Darley Road premises, where they had been re-built. The Motor department remained at Union Place.
National Mutual Buildings
Showrooms were leased in the National Mutual Buildings in Chatham Street, Fort
A property in Chatham Street, Fort was purchased and utilised as offices.
The Hatton Transport & Agency Co. Ltd
The Hatton Transport & Agency Co. Ltd was incorporated to provide transport to the plantation sector in the up-country area and also to provide services as a clearing agent to the Group and to outside parties.
Purchases Hatton Bank Limited and Hatton Transport Agency Co. Ltd, and becomes Browns Group.
The Agricultural arm of the Company was set up with the establishment of a franchise with Massey Ferguson four-wheel tractors
Ceylonese Trade License
Obtains the Ceylonese Traders license in 1959 which allowed international trade.
A year of acquisitions and new beginnings as the company acquires Hoare & Company (which was re-named as Engineering Services Ltd.), Standard Finance Ltd., to handle hire-purchase and finance, Walker & Grieg Ltd., which was a major competitor and Mason’s Mixture Ltd. In the same year, Associated Battery Manufacturers (Ceylon) Ltd begins commercial production of automotive batteries.
Browns Group Industries
Incorporation of Browns Group Industries for local manufacturing of items which were originally imported.
Cement Paints (Ceylon) Ltd was incorporated in order to manufacturePharmacem and Snowcem which were hitherto imported.
Badulla Transport & Agency Co.
Badulla Transport & Agency Co. Ltd was formed to take over business carried out by a leading outstation firm of transport agents.
Browns Tours was launched, offering a wide range of travel services.
Berec (Ceylon) Ltd was incorporated to manufacture torch, radio and transistor batteries.
Browns Group Motels
Browns Group Motels Ltd., was established in 1968 as a public company to manage and operate the motels and hotels established by the Group. In that same year, Ceylon Marine Products Ltd., amalgamated with Browns Group of Companies, processors of frozen sea foods, pioneered the export of shellfish.
Hatton National Bank
The Hatton Bank Ltd. becomes Hatton National Bank, one of the country’s leading banks and corporate entities.
Browns (MT & E) Handicrafts Ltd., was incorporated to assist the local craftsmen with financial facilities to practice their craft and provide avenue for distribution of their products in Sri Lanka and abroad.
Leading Blue Chip Company
Browns Group became one of the leading blue chip conglomerates in the country with an extensive network of engineering projects aiding the Estate sector.
Renault and Lacia Franchise
Acquires 95% shares of C.F.T. Engineering Ltd., which is the sole agent for Renault and Lacia Franchise in Sri Lanka.
Korean Kukje Tractors
Secured the sole agency for Korean Kukje Corporation for two wheel tractors.
Colombo Stock Exchange
Listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange.
Expanded into MF generators and high horsepower tractors for large scale sugar plantations and other special projects. Mini hydro systems and small generators from China were introduced. The Motor Division was appointed as the sole distributor for AP filters from Japan. Implemented the IBM RS 6000 system for a smooth back office function.
New agencies and distributorships were obtained from Perkins Engines Far East and F. G. Wilson of the U.K., for Generators. Introduced smaller generators from Kubota of Japan.
Successfully obtained international agencies for Samsung Heavy Industrial Equipment from Korea, Cosmetic Products from India, MEM Switch Gear and Circuit Breakers from the U.K. and Valvoline Motor Oils from the USA.
More New Agencies
New agencies obtained from Swaraj Mazda range of trucks and buses, Moulinex home appliances, Olympus cameras, Hudson Sprayers and Rain Bird Irrigation Systems.
Duty Free Shopsdolor sit amet
Opens Duty Free Shops at the BIA – Arrivals and Departures
New agencies obtained for Citroen Automobiles, Eicher Tractors, Sumeet domestic appliances, Crocodile mammoties, Browns bicycles, Elba, Cornell and Braun products.
TAFE Sole Distributorship
Obtained sole distributorship of TAFE India – Four-wheel tractors.
Change of Management
A new chapter opens following the change of the management of Browns Group
Together with LOLC
Browns together with LOLC enters into a Public-Private partnership agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka in 2007 to revive the Gal Oya Sugar Factory (Hingurana).
Incorporates Browns Investments which is the strategic investment arm of Browns Group of Companies.
New Office & New Investments
Browns Group moves into a new office premises located at Colombo 03. Browns Investments invested in F. L. C. Holdings (Holding company of Maturata and Pussellewa Plantations), LOLC Leisure Ltd. (Holding company of Eden Resort & Spa, Dickwella Resort & Spa, Riverina, Palm Gardens and Tropical Villas), Sierra Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, and Royal Fernwood Porcelain Ltd.
The first hospital of Browns Group, Browns Hospitals was opened in Ragama.
Browns Group launched Sri Lanka’s first 10MW grid connected solar utility scale power project in Buruthankanda, Hambantota.
Browns introduces its CSR label 'Browns Shakthi'
While Browns RADCO receives the SLS and ISO certification for its manufacturing excellence, the General Trading arm of the Company opens its flagship store in Colombo 3. Excel Restaurants (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of Browns Investments, starts operating first restaurant of the Group.
Browns Investments becomes the largest shareholder of the Hatton National Bank and also acquires Serendib Leisure.
Brews More Tea
Browns Investments acquires shares worth 90% in Udapusselawa Plantations PLC and Hapugastenne Plantations PLC for Rs. 1.9 billion from Finlays Sri Lanka.