Our history

Rettig started as tobacco factory in Hamburg in Germany in the 1770s but diversified in early years into shipping and later to other industrial businesses. Throughout its long history the company has faced a number of strategic crossroads. Today Rettig Group is a leading investment company in Finland.

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 the Nordics, founded in Helsinki in 1819. 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 head office moved from Espoo to Bulevardi in central Helsinki. The building was originally built for Sinebrychoff. To secure sufficient production facilities for the brewery a new building for storage and fermentation purposes was designed by the architect Sebastian Gripenberg and built on Bulevardi in 1880. Ten years later the building was enlarged based on drawings by the architect Theodor Höijer. The building with its malt silos served as warehouse for Sinebrychoff for more than one hundred years before changed as an office space.

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.


Rettig leaves tobacco

Rettig divested all other businesses but heating, shipping and real estate. In 2003 the company made a comeback into the lime business, first investing a small stake in Nordkalk and later becoming its sole shareholder.

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. Nordkalk had been established in 1991 when the lime business of Partek was turned into an independent company, Nordkalk Corporation. Rettig 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.


2010 onwards:
The journey into a leading investment company

After owning shipping company Bore for more than 100 years, it was divested to Dutch Spliethoff. The journey from an industrial conglomerate into a leading investment company began.

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

The insurance business came originally to Rettig Group through Bore. Bore was a co-owner in Redarnas Ömsesidiga Försäkringsbolag (RÖF), an Åland-based shipowners’ mutual insurance company and the parent company of the Alandia Insurance Group. In 2014 RÖF was reorganised into a limited liability insurance company and merged with its wholly owned subsidiary Alandia. First Bore’s share in the merged company was about 17%. Today Rettig Group is Alandia’s largest owner with its 25% stake in the company.

Tomas von Rettig, Cyril’s son and the 9th generation representative of the family, was appointed President and CEO of Rettig Group in January 2016. Before taking the helm Tomas had already been working in the firm for several years, first in asset management and then focusing on financial and strategic investments. Considering his background it was natural that Rettig began to turn from an industrial conglomerate into an investment company.

Anchor, an investment company wholly owned by Rettig Group, was established in 2015. The strategic objective of Anchor is to create net asset value growth and to support the asset liquidity and risk diversification of Rettig Group.

After owning Bore for more than 100 years, Rettig divested the shipping company to Dutch Spliethoff in June 2016. Right after, in July 2016, Rettig invested in eQ Plc, a Finnish group of companies concentrating on asset management and corporate finance. In October 2017 Terveystalo, a leading healthcare service company in Finland, became Rettig’s next core investment.

2017 – Rettig Group is one of Terveystalo's largest owners

A transition of generations took place at Rettig Group in 2019 as Cyril von Rettig stepped down and Tomas von Rettig replaced him as the company’s next Chairman of the Board.

Today Rettig Group is a Finnish family held investment company that creates value for generations through active and responsible ownership.