It has been a dramatic journey full of high and low moments. From an unpredictable market to attacks by enemies of Press freedom, the Standard Group has leaped through thorny hurdles to sustain itself as a respected and reliable media house.
The company survived a circulation crunch in the 1990s to build one of the best newspaper distribution networks in the country.Its Commercial Division has grown over the years and today controls a sizeable stake in the advertising industry.
Things took a dramatic upturn in the first quarter of 2000 when the Company made a take-off into the next phase of its growth history by turning the challenges into opportunities.
The first tragedy hit the Standard in 1913 when a mysterious fire gutted down the company’s offices on Kaunda Street and destroyed all files and past issues of the newspaper.
In July 1994, a group of youth petrol-bombed The Standard offices in Mombasa after over a story that they claimed was critical of the Islamic Party of Kenya. The then Managing Director Bob Holt had to fly to Mombasa to settle the matter with the aggrieved leaders.
But the lowest moment in the company came on March 2, 2006 when goons backed by foreign mercenaries raided the Standard Group’s twin offices at both Likoni Road, Industrial Area, and at the I&M Bank Tower in the City Centre and assaulted staff on duty, destroyed broadcasting equipment and the printing press, carted away computers containing vital records and burnt copies of newspapers in an attempt to muzzle the group.
The Standard Family has since marked the anniversary asa Press Freedom Day — to reflect and give a voice in defence of media freedom in Kenya and beyond — and also recognise outstanding journalists.
Then came the threats by the government to demolish the new ultra-modern Standard Group Centre on Mombasa Road— together with other multi-billion structures — in the name of compulsory acquisition. It took the spirited fight by the Board and Management to convince the government to drop the demolition threats.
But for the challenges experienced, the company has also made landmark achievements in the past decade. In 2004, the company moved into the towering I&M Bank Towerinthe city’s Central Business District (CBD). Before the migration, the company had its operations housed on Likoni Road, Industrial Area and in the CBD at Nyayo House and Bruce House.
But if 2004 brought a new lease of life, the year 2008 was historic.This was the year the Standard Group moved into its new headquarters on Mombasa Road.
The ultra-modern building is now the Group’s nerve centre, complete with a modern printing press and radio and television studios.