Ref NoGB1752.UAC/2/10
Alt Ref NoUAC/GO
TitleG B Ollivant Division
DescriptionIn 1858 Captain George Bent Ollivant set up the business later to be known as G B Ollivant and Company Ltd in New Cannon Street, Manchester, primarily to ship cotton goods to Africa and buy African produce for sale in Europe. A partnership under the name of G B Ollivant & Company was formed by his sons Alfred and Charles in 1894. This was converted into a limited liability company in 1900. Initially Ollivants sold basic commodities: textiles, earthenware, iron sheets, beer, provisions, soap and beads. A 'factory' was established at Lagos (about 1880) and Freetown (1887). Branches were opened at Kano and Zaria in Nigeria in 1913, Jos in 1917, Kaduna in 1927, and Gusau and Maiduguri in 1928. In western Nigeria branches were opened at Badagry, Ilorin and Ibadan, and in places such as Epe and Ejirin which were used to ship palm oil and kernels, and to serve Ibadan and Ijebu with imported merchandise. In eastern Nigeria under the Oil Rivers Protectorate, the lack of land communications led to the establishment of trading stations on river banks at Calabar, Opobo and Abonema. Later 'line' stations linked by railways were set up e.g. at Umuahia, Nsawam and Aba. By the 1950s the network numbered 58 branches in Nigeria, 23 branches in Ghana, 8 branches in Sierra Leone and 3 branches in the Congo. In 1916 a store was established at Lomé in Togoland. In 1919 stores were opened in Ivory Coast and Dahomey (later Benin). A branch was opened at Sokoto in 1919. In 1918 Ollivant bought the firm of A J Tangalakis, allowing further expansion in northern Nigeria and a footing in the Gold Coast (Ghana). A joint enterprise was formed with Bibby of Liverpool to operate in the Belgian Congo and French Equatorial Africa, in order to supply the raw material for soap. The company's expansion took place in close consultation with the financial support of Elder Dempster, in the face of competition from the African Association and William Lever. The company was purchased by UAC in 1933 and reorganised. On 30 September 1933 it was incorporated as Ollivant's (West Africa), but was almost immediately renamed G B Ollivant Ltd by a Special Resolution of 6 November in the same year. The Manchester headquarters moved to Lancaster House, Whitworth Street. Ollivants became part of UAC in 1937, but remained autonomous. By the 1940s Ollivants had become heir to the mainstream trading activities of UAC, developing a sophisticated organisation involved in local industries and specialist distribution and marketing facilities. In 1954 the Nigerian operation was converted into a locally registered company G B Ollivant (Nigeria) Ltd . Subsequently there was a rationalisation of G B Ollivant's interests within the UAC group. It took over many responsibilities on the General Goods side whilst specialist activities such as Niger Radio and Technical Services and Design were incorporated in parallel interests elsewhere in the Group, as also was the Textiles interest which had been from the early days one of the main planks of the business. These changes were reflected in the activities of the Manchester office, which also obtained additional buying responsibilities for associated companies in the Middle East and in the Francophone African countries. In 1973 the old trading company became G B Ollivant Division, providing support on an international scale for merchandise marketing services performed by associated Group companies in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, with nationwide wholesale distribution. These national marketing services included the wholesale distribution of both imported and locally manufactured goods (toiletries and medicines, graphics, hardware, provisions, menswear, etc.). In addition, the later 1970s saw the development of accredited dealers in specialised types of merchandise. Service departments included Personnel, Accounts and Shipping / Data Processing. In 1979 the main elements in the Ollivant business were wholesaling and marketing of imported and locally manufactured general merchandise, office furniture and Beam office equipment, retail department stores and supermarkets, menswear shops, radio and electrical accessory outfits, and building materials. Ollivants was only amalgamated after the crisis of 1979-80. G B Ollivant Division was dissolved on 30 September 1980. On 1 October 1980 UAC Manchester came into existence, incorporating Ollivant, Beam, Kingsway Stores, Industries, Foods and Insurance Agencies. UAC Manchester was dissolved in 1983 on the formation of Consumer Products Division
Company Number: 280095

See also Niger France for related Francophone companies [UAC/2/38/O2, O3]
Extent67 boxes and 5 outsize items [ongoing]
LevelSub sub collection
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