Our history – time to wait, but not to waste

Rettig started as tobacco factory in Hamburg in Germany in the 1770s, but diversified in early years into shipping and later to other industrial engagements. Throughout its history, the company has faced a number of strategic crossroads that have had a defining role for the company and Rettig Group as we know it today.

The first century

The industrial traditions of Rettig go back to Hamburg in the 1770s, when Steffen Cerillius Rettig became a tobacco master. Following his position as tobacco master at the factory in Ringkjobing, Denmark, he moved to Karlskrona in Sweden, and took over the operation of the new tobacco factory, Carlskrona Tobaks Fabrique.

In 1809, Steffen Cerillius' son, Pehr Christian Rettig (1788-1862) was licensed to establish a tobacco factory, P.C.Rettig & Co, in Gävle in Sweden. He was also engaged in the production of iron, shipbuilding and in the shipping business.

Pehr Christian’s son, Pehr Cerelius Rettig (1811-1871), moved from Gävle in Sweden to Turku in Finland and started up a tobacco factory in 1845.

1854 – Tobacco factory in Turku, Finland

After the death of Pehr Cerelius, the brother Robert Rettig (1818-1886) became owner of the Turku tobacco factory. Robert Rettig also owned the tobacco factory in Gävle.

In 1867, the son of Robert, Fredric von Rettig (1843-1914) moved to Turku in Finland from Gävle in Sweden and the ownership of the tobacco factory passed on to him. As a distinguished industrialist and culture patron he was raised to nobility in 1898. Fredric von Rettig was also actively involved in establishing Bore Steamship Company in 1897 to start year-around traffic between Turku and Stockholm. In 1907, Henning von Rettig became shareholder in Pargas Kalkbergs Aktiebolag (Partek as of 1978).

1898 – The first passenger vessel Bore I was built.
(picture taken in 1927)

Diversification into new businesses

In 1926 Hans von Rettig became the major stockholder of Bore Steamship Company. The company became one of the leading passenger and liner ship operators in Finland. In 1970 Rettig entered the heating industry as tobacco related health issues became increasingly serious and Rettig began to actively diversify its portfolio to other businesses.

After the death of Fredric von Rettig in 1914 the eldest son Henning von Rettig (1866-1924) managed the company until his death in 1924. Dr Hans von Rettig (1892-1979) succeeded after his death and was responsible for the tobacco business until his death in 1979.

In 1924 Bore acquired its first cargo vessels. In 1926 Hans von Rettig became the major stockholder of Bore Steamship Company. During his ownership, the company became one of the leading passenger and liner ship operators in Finland. Also in 1926, Bore Steamship Company became a partner in the Finland South America Line company and acquired a steam ship, Bore VIII, to serve the traffic between Finland and South America. This service continued until 1965. In 1939, the fleet comprised of three vessels for passenger traffic and seven cargo vessels. In the 1960s Bore was a front runner by acquiring the first ro-ro vessels with stern ramps designed for traffic on the Baltic Sea.

1924 – Bore's first cargo vessel Goole Trader

In 1940 P.C.Rettig & Co bought the majority share of Ph.U. Strengberg & Co Ab in Pietarsaari, a tobacco factory established in 1762.

1940 – Share majority of the tobacco factory in Jakobstad to Rettig

As health issues regarding the use of tobacco became increasingly serious, Rettig began to actively diversify its portfolio to other businesses. In 1970 Rettig entered the heating industry by acquiring Purmo Tuote – Produkt Ab in Purmo, a small village southeast of Pietarsaari in Finland.

In 1971 Rettig stepped into the confectionery industry by acquiring Oy Merijal Ab in Oulu and Oy Seres Ab in Turku in 1975 in Finland. The company become the market leader in pastilles in Finland with well known domestic brands such as Sisu, Leijona, Pastirol and Mynthon.

1970s – Rettig steps in to the confectionery industry

In 1974 a sales company was set up in Germany to handle the export of the radiators of Purmo Tuote – Purmo Produkt Ab.

In 1976 P.C.Rettig & Co and Ph.U. Strengberg & Co merged and became Oy Rettig-Strengberg Ab with tobacco operations in Turku and Pietarsaari.

In 1977 the company's head office was moved from Turku to Espoo in Finland.


An international conglomerate emerges

In 1979 Gilbert von Rettig took over the ownership and the responsibility for the company. The company was engaged in the tobacco, confectionery, metal, heating industries and shipping.

In 1979 Gilbert von Rettig (1928-1994) took over the ownership and the responsibility for the company after his father Dr Hans von Rettig. The company was engaged in the tobacco, confectionery, metal (heating) industries and shipping.

In the 1980s the sale of radiators in Finland increased. Rettig became the leading radiator manufacturer in the Nordic countries after the acquisition of the Finnish Lämpölinja Oy in Kokemäki in 1983 and the Kymi-Strömberg radiator factory in Heinola in 1986. The business later grew further through several acquisitions in e.g. West Germany, Ireland and Sweden.

As of 1980, Bore focused entirely on cargo traffic in the Baltic and North Sea.

1980s – Bore's vessels in the harbour of Turku, Finland

In 1983 the company changed its name to Oy Rettig Ab.

In 1984 Rettig expanded into the beverage industry by acquiring 90% of the shares in Oy Sinebrychoff Ab, the oldest brewery in Scandinavia. In 1985, Sinebrychoff bought the brewery Oy Pyynikki in Tampere. In 1993 a new brewery was opened in Kerava outside Helsinki. Production at Tampere and the Helsinki brewery were closed down. Between 1998 and 2000 the business was gradually divested to Carlsberg.

1984 – Expansion in to the brewery and soft drinks industry

In the summer of 1990, the Finnish head office moved from Espoo to Bulevardi in central Helsinki.

1990 – Head office moved to Helsinki

At the beginning of the 1990s, Rettig was engaged in the tobacco, confectionery, radiator, breweries and the soft drinks, juice and alcoholic beverage and the aluminium industry as well as shipping.


1994 onwards:
Rettig leaves tobacco and focuses on new businesses.

In 1995 Rettig finally divested the old tobacco business.

Following the death of Gilbert von Rettig in 1994, his children Ann, Cyril, Tom and Hans von Rettig took over the industrial family tradition. The same year Rettig Group sold its stake in Partek (originally Pargas Kalkberg, which had been in Rettig ownership since 1907).

In 1995 Rettig divested its tobacco business to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco International. By the end of the 20th century Rettig had divested all other businesses but heating, shipping and real estate.

In 2003 Rettig Group acquired about two per cent of Nordkalk, which had been established in 1991 as the lime business of Partek was turned into an independent company, Nordkalk Corporation Oy Ab, The group gradually increased its stake and by 2010 Rettig Group had become Nordkalk’s sole shareholder.

In January 2006 real estate assets of Rettig Group were moved into Rettig Fastighetsutveckling Ab, which today owns Tarkala Oy.

As of January 2013, Rettig Group is wholly owned through Rettig Capital by Cyril von Rettig and the family branch of Tom von Rettig, with Cyril von Rettig as the majority owner.

After shipping company Bore was divested in 2016 to Dutch Spliethoff, businesses of Rettig Group are Rettig ICC – indoor climate comfort; Nordkalk – limestone-based products; insurance company Alandia – an associated company of Rettig Group; and Anchor – Rettig Group’s in-house investment operations. A minority stake in Finnish eQ Plc. was added to the portfolio in 2016.