Oldest Companies Still in Operation

Needless to say, not all organizations that started out have remained in existence. Some fail at selling enough to keep afloat, resulting in bankruptcy. Others simply shut down when the owner decides to quit or switch to something else. Yet others could get take over and absorbed into other companies.

However, there are some very old companies that are still around today. They’re also somewhat recognizable, at least in some areas. Longevity is one of the measures of a successful company, so we should know the names of these long-running organizations.


This company was named after Bartolomeo Beretta, who was an accomplish gun barrel maker based in Gordone. He was then hired for an order of 185 arquebus barrels by the Arsenal of Venice. This was in 1526, and the company is still running to this day. In fact, this first bill of sale is still probably present in the archives.

The company has remained in the control of the Beretta family from its inception, which means it spans about 15 generations. Currently, the operation is under Ugo Gussalli, Pietro, and Franco Beretta. The output is around 1,500 arms now, which include every kind of portable weapons. Three-quarters of these are exported to other countries. Hence, the company is not just the oldest in the manufacturing sector but also the leader for 500 years.


This company dates back to 1744, with Samuel Baker holding an auction for 457 books. Baker was an English bookseller, while the books were once the property of Sir John Stanley Baker. The final sale was around £826, but the auction launched what is now known as Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. Sotheby’s is now among the best auction houses for the fine arts in the world.

Twinings Tea

Many people enjoy the natural and refreshing flavor of Twinings Tea every day, but many may not have registered that the box says it started in 1706. In fact, the company was among the first ventures that actually inculcated the habit of tea drinking to the English. They did this by setting up as a London coffee house but selling tea. This addition to the menu gave the shop a competitive edge, thus rivaling all the other coffee houses in the area.

Thomas Twining, the founder of the company, marketed the Gunpowder Green tea at a very high price. It was hence only affordable to a few and became something of a status symbol. The price then was equal to $260 per 100 grams today. One can still view the original venue of Twinings Tea in the current times.

Lloyd’s of London

The founder of this insurance company first started out with Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House. This was back in 1688, but the proprietor soon started selling shipping and marine insurance. The coffee house became a center point for those requiring such services. The result is that now Lloyd’s of London gives out specialist insurance packages for just about everything. These include underwriting, space satellites, etc.


This bank is usually held up as the oldest central bank in the work. Its first name was Stockholms Banco and it was set up in 1665 by Johan Palmstruch. The bank did collapse very soon after it started since it had issued notes in excess without the required collateral. This was a crime, with Palmstruch being given the death sentence. He got clemency later on but wasn’t in charge of the bank anymore.

From there the bank’s operations were given to the parliament at that time. The name was changed in 1866, and the bank remains standing to this day.

London Gazette

Launched in 1665, the London Gazette is the oldest English newspaper to survive up until the current day. It’s also the oldest newspaper to be continuously published within the UK. Its first copy was published in 1665 on the 7th of November.

The original name for this paper was the Oxford Gazette. This was due to the royal court moving to Oxford in order to stay safe from the plague. Since the court returned after around six months, the newspaper’s name was soon changed as well.

Royal Delft

This is a factory that was founded back in 1653 and was originally called De PorceleyneFles. The translation was “The Porcelain Jar”, and the factory was founded by David Anthonisz.  Today, that one factory has spread to around 32, even though the business itself was almost extinct in the late 1800s.  This was the point where a delft engineer named Joost Thoft bought the single factory and meant to restore the tradition of hand-painted Delft Blue.

These were the times when people had started moving away from the fragile kind of earthenware, so Thoft knew he had to change up the material and technique. He hence collaborated with his old associate Abel Labouchere and got a strong clay mixture like the white earthenware of England. Their product took off quickly and was popular worldwide. This restored the ceramic industry and Delft’s fame. Hence,  they were also granted the predicate Royal in 1919.


This is a popular brand of knives, scissors, and kitchenware that started in 1649. The beginning of this company was an ironworks based in Finland. It’s hence been operating for almost four centuries! The company stated several endeavors over the years, including farming tools, steam engines, and other agricultural implements. It even has its own color called the Fiskars orange, which was a registered trademark in Finland in 2003. It was also registered in the US in 2007.


While the oldest companies might not necessarily be large and extremely rich, they’re still probably doing something right. In the modern world, startups are starting and failing every day. It’s hence useful to learn about the oldest companies that are still operational and learn from their stories.

While the companies above did have quite a few setbacks, they managed to struggle through and come out strong. They might also have changed hands, changed names, and pivoted on several products. However, this was what it took to become successful and flourishing, as they all did.