MILESTONES

An enterprise with a century of history will inevitably have enjoyed its fair share of trials and successes. During our century of growth, several milestones have formed an indelible part of our business journey:

1911

Salim Louis emigrates from Lebanon to settle in Cape Town, South Africa. As a poor emigrant, he works hard to find odd jobs but his health is affected by the high pollen presence in the Cape mountains. His doctors advise him to move to the dryer conditions of the Orange Free State, and so he decides to live in Bloemfontein.

1913

The rumblings of the Great War cause Salim’s younger brother, Michel, to emigrate from Lebanon and join his brother in Bloemfontein. The two brothers plan to start their own wholesale business together.

1914

The Louis brothers commence their business as general wholesale merchants and property investors.

1931

The business outgrows its original premises so the operation moves to the historic 80 Church Street property in Bloemfontein, which is acquired by the Louis brothers. This building is still owned by the Louis family and is regarded as the foundation of its property-based enterprise.

1933

The Louis business imports an assortment of tea leaves from Ceylon plantations. When selecting a name for the brand of teas, Michel’s first two letters of his name are chosen – MI – and the first two letters of his surname – LO. The tea business 'MILO' was thus established, and later purchased by Nestlé for their well-known hot chocolate malt drink.

1935

Michel Louis & Sons orders four tons of rice from a supplier. The request is processed incorrectly and an order of 40 tons is recorded. The supplier further misunderstands the order and 400 tons of rice is actually delivered. Despite the confusion, the Louis brothers choose to honour the relationship with their supplier and the dispatch is accepted. Shortly thereafter, the company finds itself in the fortunate position as the only wholesaler with rice available at a time when food is very scarce due to the World War. The original capital for House of Louis could therefore be traced back to a simple grain of rice!

1936

Salim Louis dies from kidney failure, placing emotional pressure on the Louis enterprise as the Lebanese culture places great emphasis on family.

1941

Five years after Salim’s death, Michel’s loyalty to Salim’s legacy leads to his decision to marry his brother’s widow. The House of Louis® story is truly one of family loyalty and tradition.

1955-1957

The family business has grown into one of the largest wholesale merchants in South Africa. As a result, a six story building is constructed on the 80 Church Street property and a new showroom opens in Harvey Street to house the toy division, the largest in Southern Africa.

1959

The next Louis generation advances the business into more entrepreneurial activities and moves away from the heavily weighted wholesale business when Colia Louis, Salim's son, buys his first building and enters the building construction industry.

1960’s

Over time, more than one thousand houses are constructed in Bloemfontein and a property broking division is launched.

1967

Colia suffers a devastating heart-attack when his twin sons are only six weeks old. His bank manager visits him in hospital and callously advises him that the bank is cancelling his overdraft limits because his illness placed his credit-worthiness in doubt. This event catalysed Colia to press through adversity and become one of South Africa’s most successful businessmen.

1979

The Louis business spearheads one of South Africa’s first property sectional title schemes in Bloemfontein, which is highly successful. Residential sectional title units sell like hotcakes.

1980’s

Colia sources a landmark building at a bargain price and offers it to an established client. The client's response, "If it's such a bargain, why don't you buy it?" inspires the formation of a new type of property strategy, co-investing in property purchases and then maximising the investment by providing a comprehensive building management service. South Africa’s first property syndication model is launched.

1981

Michael Louis, Colia's eldest son, is the first of the third generation of the Louis family to join the family business. He focuses his attention on spearheading property brokerage whilst completing his legal studies. Michael later advances his skills with Sanlam and other major South African institutions.

1988

Alan Louis, whilst studying for his Masters degree in Commerce, joins the family business after the sudden death of his beloved uncle.

1989

Alan completes his Masters degree with a Cum Laude distinction and is inducted as a PhD commerce student. He continues to overhaul the administrative functions within the Louis business.

1993

Alan is awarded his PhD in Commerce from the University of Natal and starts assuming management oversight of the family business.

1994

The Louis family enterprise relocates its headquarters to Cape Town and continues to apply the principles of Christian and family values upon which all their business interests are founded.

1998

After serving in the business for ten years, Alan is inducted as CEO and he, along with other key leaders, envisages the transformation of the Louis enterprise into a diversity of entrepreneurial businesses.

2001

Alan actively pursues the European business opportunities for the Group and spends increasingly more time in England.

2002

Alan relocates with his family to England, choosing Stratford-upon-Avon as the Louis family’s base of operations in Europe. The Group makes numerous acquisitions in England, Germany, Switzerland and the Isle of Man. Alan’s brothers are actively pursuing their various professions in Cape Town.

The Louis enterprise opens an Isle of Man office, which serves as the fiduciary services centre for the Group's European affairs.

2003

The Louis enterprises’ technology division is awarded the prestigious infrastructure contract for the Cape Town International Convention Centre. It also launches Smart Surv Wireless, South Africa's first wireless vehicle security and surveillance device based on General Packet Radio Services (GPRS).

Louis Group Business Academy is established and is South Africa's first wholly-sponsored outcomes-based adult business programme designed on Christian and entrepreneurial principles.

2004

Alan receives the Achievement Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence from the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, England.

2006

The Louis enterprise concludes two significant property transactions with leading European property families to acquire over 30 properties in Germany and Switzerland.

2007

The renowned Corporate Research Foundation Publisher's Choice Award is given to Colia and Alan Louis. The award recognises long-standing achievements in business leadership and management excellence. A special mention is made of the way the Louis family inculcate high ethical principles throughout the organisation. Louis Group features in the Financial Mail Corporate Report, which highlights the Group's ninety-three years of faith, integrity and business savvy.

2008

Colia and Elizabeth Louis celebrate fifty years of marriage and Colia celebrates sixty years of service in the family business.

The Louis Enterprise is awarded the WQC International Star Award at the World Quality Commitment Convention. Alan and his father are awarded 'Top Executive Management Team – 2008/09' and 'Best Managed Company in the Real Estate Sector – 2008/09'. Louis Group is also listed in Best Employers South Africa 2008/09 and SA's Leading Managers 2008/09.

Cambridge Executive Education, at Cambridge University Judge Business School in the UK, announces its partnership with Louis Group Business Academy.

Louis Asset Management SA opens its Zurich, Switzerland office.

2009

Louis Group Business Academy launches its internationally accredited business programme in the UK in association with Cambridge University Judge Business School.

Louis Building, the Group's award winning flagship office building in the UK, opens in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Louis Asset Management in Zurich is awarded a Swiss Banking license.

2010

The global recession impacts on the Louis enterprises and key strategic changes are implemented globally. A European Property Fund is suspended in the Isle of Man, which is the first failed fund in the Group’s history. A critical mistake is made by the Fund Directors when they leave management control of the Fund in the hands of inexperienced property Directors.

2011

The global economic storm and the capital restraints it places on the Louis enterprises lead to the closure of its Swiss Banking operations. The Louis family nevertheless successfully manage to ensure that every single banking client is moved to a new bank with a profit in hand – a significant achievement in a deep recessionary environment.

Chairman, Colia Louis, is presented with the prestigious Social Impact Leadership Award for 2011 by the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

2012

The long recession in Europe places pressure on the Louis family’s property interests in Europe but their property strategy and collaboration with the banks work well.

In October, an investigator into the suspended European Property fund writes a false report about the workings of the suspended Fund in IOM and the Louis enterprise involvement. The Louis enterprise is later vindicated by a Mazars Forensic Audit. The Isle of Man authorities turn a blind eye to the Mazars report and their actions exclude Alan’s extensive experience in recovering value for investors.

2013

Some Louis businesses record their first legal defeats globally, in the Isle of Man, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. A Swiss legal victory is realised.

The Louis family offers to acquire property companies in the Isle of Man to assist investors in certain funds. However, the offer is rejected and investors suffer losses as a consequence.

Investec Bank deviously attacks 4 Louis enterprises in South Africa, with 37 other SA enterprises undeterred by these actions. The Louis enterprises experience God′s amazing grace during this tumultuous year.

In South Africa, of the 112 property syndications launched since the 1980’s, only one suffers a loss. Despite this success, the Isle of Man experience leads to the decision only to offer property syndications to highly skilled investors.

Alan completes “Masters at the Gate”, his private book focussing on his nearly three decade exposure to the financial industry, the inner workings of the banking industry and his Isle of Man experience. The manuscript receives critical acclaim.

2014

House of Louis sells several properties for viable returns in spite of economic tension and fiscal drag felt worldwide. Hotel division receives Diners Club Diamond Award for the best Wine List of the Year and obtains the hotel management contract of the highly sought after Manor at Plaisir de Merle 2014. Hotel division also awarded Trip advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for the fifth year running. Place on the bay hotel located on the famous Altantic seaboard receives RCI’s Gold Crown award in recognition of its superior quality hotel, year after year.

Vehicle tracking division, Smartsurv Wireless, operations reach new sale highs caused by record demands by its customers for vehicle tracking devices. Home security division, Alarm Master, established to serve the security and safety industry in South Africa

2015

Profitability improved in all operations globally despite the negative effects of the plummeting South African Rand and slow European economic growth. In a sluggish real estate market, Optimus Property Solutions deliver several impressive leases of high value.

Smartsurv Wireless and Alarm Master engage business with the prominent American home automation organization, Alarm.com, and fosters ties with Vodacom South Africa.

HS&V Hotel Management awarded recognition for the "Best Offshore Hotel Brand" by the Offshore Excellence Awards in the United Kingdom and opens the brand new Fiesta Residences Boutique Hotel and Serviced Apartments in Accra, Ghana. Fiesta Royale Hotel wins Ghana Hotels Association’s Awards for the "Best Conference and Banqueting team" and "Best Executive Housekeeper" Awards and awarded the Platinum Award Certificate at the annual "Ghana African Business Awards". The exclusive collection of Lifestyle Hotels by Preferred Hotels and Resorts is added to the Louis stable of Hotels and Trip advisor award Louis Hotels with its coveted "Hall of Fame" Certificate.



SEARCH HOUSE of LOUIS®

Loading...