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The Company was founded by Louis Rothman in 1890 as a small kiosk on Fleet Street in London. In 1900 Rothman opened a small showroom in Pall Mall from where he launched his famous Pall Mall cigarette brand. His reputation was such that King Edward VII granted Rothmans a royal warrant in 1905. Rothmans was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1929.
In 1954 the Rembrandt Tobacco Company acquired a controlling interest in Rothmans. Rembrandt was expanding and in 1958 acquired Carreras who in turn took a 51% stake in Alfred Dunhill in 1967.
In the 1970s Rothmans became involved in sponsorship sponsoring the British Olympic team in 1972 and the inaugural Hong Kong Sevens in 1976. They also sponsored Rothmans Football Yearbook, an annual football reference book, from 1970 until 2002.
In Malaysia, Rothmans was one of the popular brands of cigarette, so much so that one of the roundabout in Petaling Jaya was named ‘Rothmans Roundabout’ owing to its proximity to the former headquarters of Rothmans of Pall Mall Malaysia (now British American Tobacco Malaysia). It has since converted to a 4-way junction.
In 1988 Lord Swaythling became Chairman and Chief Executive.
In January 1996 the Rembrandt Group and Richemont merged their tobacco business under the Rothmans International name. Then in 1999 Rothmans was acquired by British American Tobacco. The takeover resulted in the closure of the Rothmans Spennymoor & Darlington manufacturing plants in 2000 and 2001 respectively, with production moved to a larger plant at Southampton.