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The History of Kirin

Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. was established on February 23, 1907, taking over the business of The Japan Brewery Co., Ltd., which had started marketing Kirin Beer in 1888. In its history of more than 100 years, Kirin Brewery has gone through a series of hard times, including struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in 1923 and from the postwar chaos in the late 1940s. Despite these challenging circumstances, the company has never wavered from its philosophy of being customer focused and quality focused, and has continued to expand its business.

In this section, we look at histories of Japan Brewery and Kirin Brewery in 12 segments, each representing an epoch-making period in the two companies' histories.


Pre-Kirin Brewery Years: Japan Brewery Company, Limited

Japan Brewery Co., Ltd. was established in Yokohama in 1885 and started marketing Kirin Beer in 1888.


Kirin Brewery Company, Limited Established

Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. was established in 1907, taking over the business of Japan Brewery.

The First World War and the Great Kanto Earthquake

After expanding its beer-production capacity in the midst of a booming economy, Kirin Brewery managed to survive the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and continued to grow with the addition of the soft drink business.

The Turbulent Prewar and War Years

After the Japanese beer market survived the turmoil that resulted from a recession in the late 1920s and early 1930s, beer companies were forced to adapt to Japan's wartime economy.

Postwar Transition and Reconstruction

Kirin Brewery resumed operating its plants and regional offices amid the chaos of postwar Japan, and expanded its national sales network, anticipating an upswing of the beer market.

Expanding Beer Production during the Period of
Accelerated Economic Growth

During the sustained economic growth from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, Kirin Brewery upgraded its capacity to produce, market, and distribute beer. The company also stepped up its soft drink business and went into the whisky business.

Pursuing Quality Rather Than Quantity after the Oil Crisis

Kirin Brewery diversified its business by entering into the food market when the growth of the beer market slowed in the 1970s.


Developing and Implementing a Long-Range Management Plan

Kirin Brewery made a foray into the field of life sciences such as pharmaceuticals. The company implemented operational initiatives to become a more sustainable company.

Redefining Beer Business Strategy and
Spinning Off the Soft Drink Business

Kirin Ichiban Shibori, which first hit the market in 1990, went on to become one of the most popular beers in Japan. Kirin Brewery's soft-drink business division was spun off to become Kirin Beverage Co., Ltd. in 1991.

Structural Transformation Initiatives―NK21 and KG21

Kirin Brewery transformed its beer business and set out to develop the alcohol beverage business outside Japan and to make the foundation for its pharmaceutical business stronger.


Transition to a Pure Holding Company System

In 2007, celebrating its 100th anniversary, Kirin Brewery changed its trade name to Kirin Holdings Co., Ltd., established as a pure holding company for the Kirin Group.

Embarking on the Path to Become a Leading Company in the Asia-Oceania Region

Under the pure holding company structure, the Kirin Group has been expanding its business in Japan and abroad to become a leading company in the Asia-Oceania region.


© 2007 Kirin Holdings Company, Limited.

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