Amorim Universe - Amorim & Irmãos – Cork Stoppers Business Unit

Company expertise for a unique product

At Amorim, the cork stopper has an exclusive status. Not just because of its unique natural characteristics, but also because it has a team which is wholly devoted to the manufacture of the ideal stopper for each market segment anywhere in the world.

Amorim is the largest producer and supplier of cork stoppers worldwide and in whom the main wine producers place their trust. The experience of around a century and a half of activity and a development/innovation standing provide a unique guarantee of confidence in the supply of quality products.

The company began as a small cork stopper factory, established in 1870 in the heart of the Port wine region. The proximity of the wine producers soon contributed to creating business relationships, anticipating client needs and swiftly meeting their requests. Four generations later, this continues to be the strategy which consolidates the company's leadership in the sector.

The Amorim name and centuries of experience have generated dozens of new companies which currently comprise Corticeira Amorim's Cork Stoppers Business Unit. It has subsidiaries in key wine producing countries, from the old European continent to the new markets in South Africa, Australia and South America. It sells to over 15,000 active clients in 82 countries and is a benchmark among the most renowned wine producers.

The arrival of a leader

The vision of the future has been one of the company's inherent characteristics since it was founded by António Alves de Amorim, as the producer of cork stoppers for the renowned Port Wine. At that time, at the end of the 19th century, the wine and cork industries were beginning to evolve driven forward by each other and Amorim was already demonstrating its determination to succeed. At the start of the 20th century, which was a time of great excitement for international trade, cork stoppers were already considered a luxury product and compulsory requirement for wines from the best wineries at the time and the Amorim family opened a workshop to meet demand.

In the 1920s, when the export of national cork stoppers reached unexpected levels, the second generation of the family brought new momentum to the company and the activity: it opened the group's first factory and made the company a benchmark. In 1930, Amorim was the largest manufacturer of cork stoppers in the North of Portugal.

Despite the setbacks of World War II, the cork market continued to grow and the end of the war created a favourable climate for economic recovery. That time coincided with the arrival of the third generation which introduced a radical change to the cork industry. In 1950, the start of a journey through the countries of Eastern Europe, which Américo Amorim embarked on, would transform the company into the largest Portuguese exporter to Eastern Europe.

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The verticalisation of the business

In 1962, Portugal was consolidating its position as the world's largest producer of cork (raw material), in terms of quantity and quality, despite 80% of production being exported without being processed. Already geared towards a broader and more demanding market, Amorim defined a verticalisation strategy with the aim of achieving world leadership in the production and export of cork products. A significant increase in the production of cork stoppers led Amorim to make use of the by-products and to the arrival of a new area of business - agglomerates. It would be the first step towards the creation of a more comprehensive company, Corticeira Amorim, which was founded in 1963.

The goal to integrate all stages of the process, from the purchase of raw materials to after-sales service, led to the creation of new companies in Southern Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Tunisia. In the 1970s, the company's expansion into other markets took place, which led to increased growth at international level and consolidated its position as market leader. The challenge took on a new dimension.

A new approach: To innovate

In the 1980s, Amorim was already producing all cork-related products. This ability, allied with the swift growth of the world wine industry, fostered unprecedented investment in R&D. The objective was clear: To distinguish itself by strengthening its policies and skills in research and quality control.

This led to the appearance of the Central Laboratory, which is transversal to all company activity and specialises in creating new products and implementing innovative processes and technology. With the objective of improving what the company has to offer, strict international quality control standards - never applied before in the cork industry - are implemented and complied with.

Solutions such as the implementation of new washing and treatment techniques, process control and the definition of technical specifications, to name a few, give the company an unprecedented ability to meet market needs. It was the starting point to ensure an increasing and continuous relationship with clients based on trust and to develop the business all over the world.

In the 1990s, Amorim established a consistent distribution network with the establishment of companies in the world's most important wine markets: France, Italy, Spain, Australia, USA, Argentina and Chile.

With the 21st century just around the corner, the company opened the most advanced technological centre for processing cork, which processes approximately half of the raw material produced in Portugal and manufactures the disks for Twin Top® stoppers. The geographical proximity to the purchasing unit has proved to be a successful strategy and paves the way for technological advancement. The implementation of the CONVEX boiling system thus emerges as a revolution in the treatment of cork. Amorim not only enables the qualitative control of the raw material, but gives credibility to the cork industry at international level.

Moving towards sustainable development

With the fourth generation of the family running the company since 2001, Amorim also established itself as the leader in sustainable development. Under the management of António Rios Amorim, the company developed a long-term project which integrated the concept of sustainability into all its operations. In this context, it is the first company in the sector to publish a sustainability report. The first edition, in 2007, was awarded by the Corporate Register as one of the best reports in the world in the Openness and Honesty category and among the best six in the Relevance and Materiality category. During the same year, Amorim joined the BCSD – Business Council for Sustainable Development and the following year the Forest and Trade Iberian Network, becoming the first commercial partner of the Condominium of the Earth and Global Forest & Trade Network, which aims to care for the planet in an integrated manner.

Also in this regard, other pioneering initiatives arose, such as the launch of the recycling programme of Green Cork stoppers, the inauguration of the first global cork stopper recycling facility and the Save Miguel campaign, developed on social networks with the aim of raising the awareness of the community to the economic, environmental and social benefits of using cork products.

Today, Amorim is an innovative company, which is environmentally responsible and comprehensive. It develops cork applications not only on traditional added-value products, such as cork stoppers, but also products which incorporate the advanced technology in manufacturing and high standards of R&D. A vast high quality portfolio meets the needs of a variety of discerning clients such as those from the car industry, aeronautics, the construction industry - where Amorim was distinguished in 2012 with the seal of sustainability -, or the wine industry.