Companies: American or not?

One thing that’s surprised me as I’ve been in the UK is the number of companies that I’ve always assumed were American but are not. I think this just goes to show how ethnocentric we can be. Take a look at this list and tell me if you are surprised or have known it for years.

Shell Oil – actually a subsidiary of Dutch company called Royal Dutch Shell. One of the six “supermajors” (vertically integrated private sector oil exploration, natural gas, and petroleum product marketing companies), Shell was listed as the world’s largest corporation for 2009 by Fortune and world’s second largest corporation by Forbes. The company’s headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands, with its registered office at the Shell Centre in London, United Kingdom.

The Body Shop – Has 2,400 stores in 61 countries, and is the second largest cosmetic franchise in the world. The Body Shop is headquartered in Littlehampton, West Sussex, England, was founded by the late Dame Anita Roddick and is now part of the L’Oréal corporate group. In the early 1970s, Anita Roddick–then Anita Perilli–visited a shop called The Body Shop in Berkeley, California run by Peggy Short and Jane Saunders. This inspired her to open her own shop back in the UK. In 1987, Anita purchased the naming rights from the original Body Shop.(from wikipedia)

Virgin Megastores – as part of an enormous empire called Virgin Group, Virgin Megastores and Virgin media are just the tip of the iceberg. Did you know there are Virgin Trains, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Racing, Virgin Money, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Flowers, Virgin Cola and Virgin Galactic? They may take over the universe before Google or the Galactic Empire.

Cadbury – This recently exchanged hands and was purchased by Kraft Foods, but until January 2010, this company was based in Uxbridge. Cadbury sells much more than the Eggs we’re used to—chocolate, candy bars and other confectionaries are part of this candy wonder.

Nestle – Another candy company. This one isn’t British, but it also isn’t American. Like all best chocolate companies, this one’s Swiss. Nope, didn’t know that. I thought I was breaking off red, white & blue pieces from that KitKat bar, not red & white.

Douwe Egberts – Though it is now a subsidiary of Sara Lee, Douwe Egberts (by the way, pronounced “dow” not “duey”) is a Dutch corporation that processes and trades coffee, tea, and other groceries. Its full name is Douwe Egberts Koninklijke Tabaksfabriek-Koffiebranderijen-Theehandel Naamloze Vennootschap, which translates as “Douwe Egberts Royal Tobacco Factory – Coffee Roasters – Tea Traders, Plc.” (wikipedia)

There are tons of American companies in the UK, more than I expected. Here are a few I was surprised to see …


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