As legal entities the firms R. G. Shaw & Company and Wallace & Company came into existence in 1884 and 1886 respectively, in Calcutta, India.
It’s Colombo Office was opened in 1909, in the name of R. G. Shaw & Company, with Rufus Wilson in charge. On 1st January 1912, it became a branch of Shaw Wallace & Company (India). The office was at No. 28, Chatham Street in the Fort.
First 50 Years
A coal depot had been rented on the harbour front and a certain amount of coal bunkering was done. From time to time R. G. Shaw & Company, London, arranged shipments of coal from Swansea and Cardiff under charter parties. In the Tea Industry, R. G. Shaw & Company were forwarding agents for the Eildon Hall Tea Company and agents for the Welimada Tea Company. R.G. Shaw & Company, London, continued to arrange shipments of bunker coal, and some new contracts were developed. In the course of time, Shaw Wallace & Company became engaged in fertilizers. This was a natural diversification, as the Ceylon Tea and Rubber companies already invested heavily in fertilizers. Towards the end of 1916, Rufus Wilson was replaced by Godfrey Rhodes, nephew of the senior partner of the company’s auditors, m/s. Ford Rhodes & Thornton. Godfrey Rhodes became our Accountant in Shaw Wallace & Company.
In 1920 Pope got to hear of a Tea property which was being offered for sale. This was the Adams Peak Tea Estate, which was in two parts, Adams Peak and Derryclare. A sterling company was consequently floated to acquire the property. For the next two or three years the Colombo branch was busily engaged on work for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, who were anxious to have an oil depot with storage tanks in Colombo. In spite of much opposition, the firm allotted a site at Kolonnawa, a few miles out of Colombo; and it’s first operation was to construct a pipeline connection with the harbour; two one-million gallon tanks were erected, with offices and other buildings.In July 1923, Pope handed over charge of the Colombo Branch to H. G. Stokes. Under H. G. Stokes, the years 1924 to 1930 brought great prosperity to Ceylon. Prices of tea and rubber continued on a high level and profits were growing. The agencies for Westward Ho Tea Company Ltd. and for Ceylon Timber and Rubber, had been sold to other hands, and the firm only retained those of Eildon Hall Estates, Welimada Tea Company and Adams Peak Tea Estates.
In February 1930 the firm had acquired British Fertilizers Ltd.; it was after the war that the business continued to flourish, though in 1947 the Eildon Hall Tea & Rubber Company passed was sold to Ceylon interest. The import trade also diminished, largely through the fantastic credit terms which had to be given in competition with other firms. But fertilizers continued to expand together with the new sprayer business. At first, the business was to mainly serve the tea industry in its all-out fight against blister blight; which might well have knocked out tea in the same fashion as coffee was devastated in Ceylon many years previously.
Shaw Wallace & Company was one of the first firms to have a ‘Ceylonese’ covenanted assistant, and were pioneers in Ceylonisation. The firm was among the first to introduce a definite salary scale, and the firm’s provident institution was at the time, a virtually unique action to help the clerical staff.
Shaw Wallace & Company in India, had by now become a limited company, and on 1st June 1949 the firm’s business in Ceylon, was incorporated as Shaw Wallace Ceylon Ltd., with Edge as its first Chairman. On 1st January 1954, the firm became Shaw Wallace & Hedges Ltd., with the absorption of Lee Hedges & Company Ltd. In November 1954, a number of shares were placed on the market, and the company was converted into a public (rupee) company with its shares quoted on the Colombo Stock Exchange. The first Chairman of Shaw Wallace & Hedges Ltd. was C.F.H. Edwards, who was the senior director of Lee Hedges & Company Ltd at the time. He retired in 1956 and D. F. R. Mallows succeeded him as Chairman. It was in that year that the two companies became fully integrated, with Shaw Wallace & Hedges moving their office from Prince Street to Hedges Building at Colpetty, the head office and premises of Lee Hedges & Company Ltd.
The Next 50 Years
In 1961, Shaw Wallace & Hedges Ltd. was approached by Bois Bros. & Company Ltd., to provide them with storage accommodation for their estate teas. It was agreed to build storage for them at the Grove Fertilizer Works. This was completed by September 1961, and led to a stronger relationship with Bois Bros. Consequently, this led to the suggestion of an amalgamation with Shaw Wallace & Hedges Ltd. Negotiations continued into 1962, and an agreement was reached that as from 1st July 1962, Shaw Wallace & Hedges Ltd. should take over the whole of the capital of Bois Bros. & Company Ltd.
To integrate the new business, a new office building was constructed in front of the existing premises in Colpetty. The Chairman of Bois Bros., Mr. G. Somers Hall, retired as at 31st December 1963, and J. L. Capper, Chairman of Shaw Wallace & Hedges Ltd. succeeded him.
During 1963, the company also acquired the whole of the share capital of Ceylon Potteries Ltd., a manufacturing unit making roofing tiles and drainpipes, and accordingly this Company became an additional subsidiary.
In 1972 the company lost most of its plantations to the then Government policy of nationalization and saw its business severely affected due to the Socialists policies.
In 1978 with the liberalization of the economy the company ventured into new growth sectors such as manufacturing, travel, pharmaceuticals while aggressively growing its Automotive and FMCG businesses.
In 2001, Shaw Wallace & Hedges Ltd transferred its Automotive and FMCG business to Shaw Wallace Distributors Ltd. Its subsidiaries Healthcare Products Ltd, Shaw Lanka Tours Ltd and Shaw Wallace Service Ltd were also transferred to Shaw Wallace Distributors Ltd.
In the same year Shaw Wallace and Hedges Ltd renounced its controlling shareholding in Shaw Wallace Distributors Ltd to its shareholders while retaining an associate shareholding. In 2004 Shaw Wallace Distributors Ltd was renamed as Shaw Wallace Marketing Ltd.
On 16th March 2011 Renuka Holdings PLC purchased controlling interest of Shaw Wallace Marketing Ltd and its subsidiaries and returned it to its original name Shaw Wallace Ceylon Ltd. Simultaneously it acquired its new corporate offices, the Shaw Wallace Building and Shaw Wallace properties Ltd.
The journey continues…..