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Coreas Hazells celebrates 75 years

Coreas Hazells  celebrates 75 years


Fri Sep 27, 2013

by Joel Providence
Managing Director, Coreas Hazells

It is indeed a rare occurrence today to have independent businesspersons coming together to form a jointly-owned enterprise for long-term success. On September 29, 1938 (75 years ago), this is what transpired, when several Kingstown merchants and hoteliers followed through on the idea to establish a joint stock company under the banner of United Traders Ltd – one of the foundation companies of Coreas Hazells Inc.{{more}}

The enterprise became the centre of commerce in St Vincent and the Grenadines, even eclipsing the operations of Hazells, which had been established 93 years earlier (the first known registered company in St Vincent).

United Traders was involved in hardware, supermarket, and bakery operations and also had a department store at the corner of Halifax and Hillsboro Streets. The company was also involved in food wholesale and served as agent for Shell Oil Co, General Motors and subsequently Datsun/Nissan vehicles.

Most persons, on reflection, deemed that location to be the “heart of town”.

The shareholders

After being in business from 1938 to 1962, the shareholders had become fairly advanced in age. Right up to 1962, the company was able to pay dividends annually (save for 1959) to its shareholders. Despite the profitability of the company, and as a result of insufficient re-capitalisation, the business had begun to lose its competitive edge. Given also that the shareholders were advancing in years, coupled with creeping internal dissent, the decision was taken by all ten shareholders to transfer their shares at an agreed price to Goddard’s on May 30, 1962. The shareholders of United Traders at that time were: Ena Sardine, P.S. Nanton, St Clair McConnie, C. M. Gill, L. E. Marshall, F. A. Sardine, G. I. Kerr, C. H. Layne , D. B. Gill and H.S. McConnie. Both C. M. Gill and L. E. Marshall also worked at United Traders in a management capacity.

Over its many years of business, [United] Traders had become a household name in St Vincent. It was the first place that you thought of when you wanted to purchase cloth (fabric) and related items. It was the place where people from both “town and country” flocked to on Christmas Eve when toys, carpets and other items traditionally linked to the season were bought. Traders was the place for the best bread – still available in the very location that houses Coreas Food Express today.

The first supermarket

Traders operated the very first self-service grocery in St Vincent which they branded the “KWIK SHOP”. Prior to the opening of this mini supermarket, the building on Egmont and Middle Streets housed a pharmacy called “United Pharmacy”. This was subsequently closed to accommodate the opening of the Kwik Shop. Traders also operated a fuel station in the Market Square obliquely opposite the Courthouse, where cold soft drinks, tyres and oils were also sold.

Merger with Corea & Co

In 1976, United Traders Ltd acquired the trading assets of Corea and Co Ltd, Gerry Palmer Ltd and H.D. Dear Ltd. Traders then changed its name to Corea’s Trading Ltd, but the latter three companies were not wound up at that time. They continued, and remained on the Companies Registry for a number of years after.

Coincidentally, Corea & Co was also established during the same epoch – on December 31, 1937. Its initial memorandum of association records its shareholders as: F. A. Corea, N. A. Duncan, C.H. Findlay, R. E. Baynes, C. J. Dopwell, E. D. Gellizeau and F. J. Clarke. Like United Traders and Hazells, Corea & Co was engaged in multiple business ventures in Kingstown.

Corea’s Trading Ltd not only consolidated the several existing businesses of its predecessor companies, but also forged the expansion into new endeavours, including garment manufacturing at the newly established Campden Park Industrial Estate.

In 2003, Corea’s Trading was subsequently amalgamated with Hazells Ltd and Diamond Holdings to become Coreas Hazells Inc.

It is a tribute to those who had the pioneering vision back in September, 1938 and to the several thousand Vincentians who worked with and supported United Traders and its successor companies, that we can take this time to recognise the company for its contribution to commercial life here in St Vincent and the Grenadines for the past 75 years; and to Goddard’s which has also been a part of St Vincent & the Grenadines’ commercial life for over 50 of those years.