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It was in the late 1920s that L. Farrugia & Sons, commonly known as Farsons, first ventured into the brewing industry, with the building of a brewery in Hamrun. Lewis Victor Farrugia, visionary entrepreneur and architect by profession, was diversifying the activities of an industrial gas business. 

Mr Lewis V. Farrugia

The first locally brewed beer, Farsons Pale Ale was launched on 19th April 1928, only a few months after the Hamrun brewery was completed. A new chapter in the history of Maltese industry had started.

A year later, L. Farrugia & Sons merged with H & G Simonds, brewers from Reading in the UK. H & G Simonds had been shipping regular supplies of beer to the island since 1880 to satisfy the strong demand of the British Garrison stationed in Malta during the period. The new company was called Simonds Farsons Limited.

Brigadier General Harry Simonds de Brett

Mr Farrugia became first Managing Director of the new company. Brigadier General Harry Simonds de Brett, who had been managing the Simonds branch in Malta, became the Chairman, representing the Simonds’ interests. The new Chairman, who had a long and distinguished career in the army, would steer the company through many difficult years. He retired from the company in 1950.

Marquis John Scicluna

Barely a month after Farsons Pale Ale was launched, a competing brewery, The Malta Export Brewery, launched Cisk Pilsner. The history of Cisk however started much earlier than that, when Malta’s first privately-owned bank was established by Giuseppe Scicluna in 1840.

In 1928, Scicluna’s Bank, under the direction of Marquis John Scicluna, son of Giuseppe, took over the operation of a company of one of its clients which had been granted a temporary exclusive license to manufacture Pilsner and Munchener type beers. The company became known as The Malta Export Brewery and the story of Cisk began.

After pre-war failed attempts, Simonds Farsons Limited and The Malta Export Brewery, post-war, opted to merge and the formation of Simonds Farsons Cisk Limited was announced on 30th June 1948. Marquis Scicluna became Chairman in 1950, succeeding Brigadier General Simonds de Brett, and Lewis V. Farrugia became Managing Director.

Following this merger it was decided to invest in a new brewery and construction works started on a site at Mriehel. Construction of the new brewery was carried out under the direction of Mr Lewis V. Farrugia, an architect by profession. Mr Farrugia dedicated two years in developing a plan and project, which, according to his experience, would meet the requirements of the market. The brewery was formally inaugurated in July 1950, and still stands today. The new facilities enhanced Farsons’ brewing capabilities and paved the way for new opportunities.

Mr Anthony Miceli-Farrugia

Barely a year after the inauguration of the Mriehel brewery, the newly merged company diversified into the production of soft drinks and the next significant milestone was the introduction of the soft drink Kinnie in 1952. Anthony Miceli-Farrugia, appointed Managing Director in 1956 following the untimely death of Lewis V. Farrugia, was instrumental in the development of this product, a bittersweet non-alcoholic drink made from oranges and aromatic herbs.

Kinnie, manufactured and marketed under its own trademark and label, was launched as an alternative to the innumerable colas that had proliferated all over Europe after the Second World War.

For over 25 years Mr Anthony Miceli-Farrugia contributed to the successful running and development of the company. Among other investments he was responsible for a new Beer Packaging Hall which featured two parallel identical returnable glass bottling lines. The plant was commissioned in 1974.

He also saw the entry of the company into the catering business through Express Catering Company Limited, operator of “Wimpy” restaurants chain, and the development of the Fortizza restaurant. The importation of wines and spirits was consolidated by the formation of a dedicated company, Wands Limited.

Mr Louis A. Farrugia

Louis Anthony Farrugia, son of Lewis, was appointed Managing Director in 1980, succeeding Anthony Miceli-Farrugia, who carried on with Chairman responsibilities.

In 1984 a fresh Brewery development master plan was drawn up that included further enhancements to the beer processing facilities.

A state-of-the-art fully automated Brewing Process Plant, that included an extensive tank farm facility, was inaugurated in 1990.

Mr Bryan Gera

On the retirement of Mr Anthony Miceli-Farrugia, Mr Bryan Gera was elected Chairman of the Board in 1995. He had been serving on the Board of Directors since 1980. As Chairman, Mr Gera brought along significant personal business experience, leading the Board to continue taking timely decisions on forward-looking investments.

In 1995, in yet another milestone, Simonds Farsons Cisk became the first private sector company to list its equity on the Malta Stock Exchange.

As a listed company, Farsons proceeded with another first, when it set up the Farsons Foundation, highlighting a strong sense of corporate social awareness.

Mr Louis A. Farrugia continued the involvement of Farsons in the catering business, initiated by Mr Anthony Miceli-Farrugia, by setting up Food Chain (Holdings) Limited (operator of the Pizza Hut, KFC and Burger King franchises). Through the acquisition of Quintano Foods Limited, in 2004, the company moved into the food importation sector.

Mr Louis A. Farrugia responded to the 2004 challenge of Malta’s accession to the European Union by investing in a technologically advanced Plastic PET Soft Drinks Packaging Plant. This was required to cope with the full liberalisation of the local carbonated soft drinks market. He followed this with an investment in a centralised Logistics Centre that includes modern automated warehousing facilities and an effective distribution set-up. 

In 2011 Mr Louis A. Farrugia succeeded Mr Bryan A. Gera as Chairman of the Board and Mr Gera was appointed President of the Farsons Group.

In September 2012, a new state-of-the-art Brewhouse was inaugurated by Farsons Group Chairman Mr Louis A Farrugia and Farsons Group Chief Executive Officer Mr Norman Aquilina. The new Brewhouse is a modern building with copper cladding, and incorporates a natural ventilation system, rain water harvesting and temperature insulation. Apart from the brewing plant, the building also houses a malt-handling and storage system, a rain water reservoir, a laboratory and offices. The new energy-efficient Brewhouse has been designed to cope with Farsons’ future brewing requirements with further improved quality, productive capabilities and cost efficiencies, thereby ensuring competitiveness in an ever-changing international market scenario.

From its relatively humble beginnings in the 1920s, Farsons has grown into one of Malta’s leading Group of Companies, whose story is closely linked to Malta’s history and its industrial and economic evolution.

Today, as brewers and soft drinks manufacturers, Simonds Farsons Cisk plc is synonymous with leadership in industry and enterprise. As a Group of Companies, Farsons has diversified successfully into fast food, is involved in the importation of wines and spirits, as well as the importation and distribution of food products.