The East India Company is a British business like no other. Linked with discovery and world trade, it was created in 1600 when Queen Elizabeth I granted a Royal Charter to over 100 English merchants, giving them the right to trade exclusively east of Cape Town.
The merchants, sailors and explorers of The East India Company found uncharted trading territory. In the process, the company not only introduced commodities and goods such as tea and coffee, but also established important trading posts like Hong Kong, Singapore and Mumbai, which would become burgeoning cities. When the company was dissolved in 1874, it left Britain with an Empire, which included the subcontinent of India.
From Chinese tea planted in the uplands of Darjeeling to chintzes in the Bay of Bengal, the company had opened up this part of the globe for trade and further shaped the world as we know it.
The next chapter began in 2000, when the company was revived. Today it is owned by Sanjiv Mehta but managed on the principles that those involved in its running are ‘custodians’ and look after a brand whose name is familiar to 2.2 billion people worldwide. The East India Company celebrates the various origins of its speciality and luxury products, be they precious teas from the slopes of Assam, the spring pick of Darjeeling’s first flush or Napoleon Bonaparte’s beloved coffee beans from Saint Helena, which the company first imported to the island from Yemen in the 18th century.
All products sold by The East India Company tell a story from every corner of the globe, whether they are a delicate biscuit, jam or chutney, an exquisite silver-plated tea strainer or bone china tea and coffee cups. Most recently, the company – which has a flagship store on London’s Conduit Street – launched London Dry Gin in 2016. ‘When I first took the helm, I wanted to develop teas, coffees, fine foods and hospitality, but creating a spirits collection was also a serious ambition,’ says Sanjiv Mehta.
‘The obvious place to start was gin, due to the original trade of botanicals and their historical connection to The East India Company. Our liquid is a true London Dry gin that embodies the pioneering spirit of The East India Company.’
This year the East India Company is to open its first flagship café/restaurant in Saudi Arabia – the realisation of a long-term dream that includes branching out into hotels, fashion, silverware and jewellery. New books on the company’s rich history and its impact on the financial markets mark a new chapter for its publishing arm too. What else? Honouring its historic right to mint its own currency, the brand is issuing Mohur and Guinea limited-edition, proof-quality coins for collectors, further supporting The East India Company legacy in the precious metals world. All of these ventures are part of The East India Company’s greater aim to honour the brand’s legacy while bringing together the best our world has to offer.
THE EAST INDIA COMPANY 7–8 CONDUIT STREET, LONDON W1S 2XF +44 (0)20 3205 3380