|Description||Huileries du Congo Belge was William Lever's plantation enterprise in the Belgian Congo, established in 1911, when he was granted concessions from the Belgian government for the growing of palm oil. In 1923 a Lever soap factory was built. (In 1924 SAVCO (Savonneries Congolaises) was established. In 1951 it started to produce Lux soap.)|
At the outset HCB was technically autonomous, and although from 1929 it became a subsidiary of Lever Bros, it was more closely linked to UAC through its associated trading company SEDEC. In 1933, to economise on administrative costs, it was put under the supervision of UAC, and the HCB Engineering Department was merged with the newly formed Engineering Department of UAC [For records of this department, which include a considerable amount of material relating to the construction and operation of HCB plant see UAC/2/4].
Sedec was originally the trading wing of HCB. In 1929 the companies were divided. HCB became a subsidiary of Lever Brothers and Sedec was transferred to UAC.
In 1931 HCB and the Savonneries Lever Freres were amalgamated to form the Compagnies Reunis des Huileries du Congo Belge et Savonneries Lever Freres ''Huilever SA''. On 25 May 1960, on the gaining of independence of the Belgian Congo, the HCB palm oil operations of Huilever SA became Plantations Lever au Congo [PLC], and then in 1971 on the renaming of the area as Zaire, Plantations Lever au Zaire [PLZ]. While the overseas management of the company was still in the 1950s largely in the hands of Belgians, from 1955 operations were overseen by Unilever Plantations Group. The process of liquidation of Huilever SA began in 1957, but due to legal difficulties was still in progress in 1971. PLZ continued to operate in Zaire until the early 1980s
In spite of changes of company name, the majority of the records listed here relate to the HCB division of Huilever SA and its successors, and form a continuous series. They have therefore all been listed under the original company name, with a note in brackets to indicate contemporary nomenclature.
[NOTE: Correspondence relating to the early history of the Huileries du Congo Belge is also to be found in the Leverhulme Business Correspondence [ref LBC]. There are also relevant records among the archives of Unilever Plantations Group]