1899

Formation Of A Limited Company...

In about the year 1897, W.G. Groves had a severe illness and, although he made a satisfactory recovery, he was strongly advised by his doctors to retire from the business. It was felt by the other two partners that the time had come, particularly in view of the advice from his doctors to the elder, to expand the business and consolidate their own hard work of many years in a way that could only be accomplished by a public flotation. The decision was made in 1898. The licensed properties had by then increased to 309 freehold and long leasehold properties, and 282 licensed houses held on short leasehold or annual tenancies, there were also 710 freehold and long leasehold and 38 short leasehold unlicensed shops and dwelling houses.

The flotation was an enormous success. The subscription for the preference shares exceeded by thirteen times the number of shares offered and the £550.000 4% debenture stock issued at £103 was oversubscribed by nearly four times. The issued capital was £750.000, of which £400.000 was in £10 10s 0d. Per share, and £350.000 in £10 ordinary shares which were issued to the vendors and other members of the family. There were in fact, only twelve ordinary shareholders, the bulk of these shares being acquired by the vendors as part of the purchase consideration. The ordinary and preference shareholders numbered over 1,500 by 1950.

It was at the time of the floatation that Mr. George Whitehead first began his long association with the company. He was at the time chief clerk to Messrs. E.A. Boyer & Co, the firm’s accountants, and it was largely due to his indefatigable labours over a period of many months that the flotation was so successful, on the completion of the flotation, Mr. Goulden, the oldest staff employee, was appointed secretary, and Mr. James Groves offered Mr. Whitehead the post of assistant secretary. Much to his surprise the latter declined, saying he was too young to settle down and proposed to get some business experience before doing so.

Finally however, Mr. J.G. Groves persuaded him to throw in his lot with the new company, although agreeing, he formed the unspoken proviso in his own mind that the job would probably do for a year or two. This “year or two” eventually extended to over forty four years. He finally retired from his “temporary employment” on 31st December, 1943. He had then been a member of the board for thirty years and deputy chairman and joint managing director since 1932, the first directors of the new limited company, appointed at the offices of Messrs. Grundy, Kershaw and Samson on 28th February, 1899, were....

·         J.G. Groves

·         J.E.G Groves

·         C.H. Leigh

·         C.H. Hull

J.G. Groves was appointed chairman and managing director, and J.E.G. Groves, deputy chairman and manager of the Regent Road Brewery, Mr. J.E.G. Groves, the youngest brother of the two previous partners, has already briefly mentioned as having entered the service of the firm in 1886, Mr. C.H. Leigh was invited to become a director under the following circumstances. Mr. W.G. Groves, the elder brother, had married Leigh’s sister, in 1885; these two brothers-in-law decided that it would be an excellent and profitable plan to start a mineral water and beer bottling business as an adjunct to the already flourishing brewery.

Accordingly, in that year the firm of Leigh & Co came into existence. The equal parties being Mr. William Groves, Mr. James Groves and Mr. Leigh. Globe Works, as the new venture was named, was situated in Oldfield Road, Salford, about 300 yards from the brewery. Under the powerful auspices of the latter, which now threw open its houses to the new partnership, the business managed by Mr. Leigh, prospered exceedingly and became one of the largest of its kind in the district. In addition it did some export trade.

In 1911, Mr. Keith Grimble Groves, who in 1923 became a director of the company was in a public house in Ladysmith, when he noticed a trade sign “Globe Mineral Waters, Salford” He subsequently learnt that Mr. Leigh had sent soft drinks to Ladysmith in the days before the Boar War, On the floatation, in 1899, it was decided to incorporate Leigh & Co. in the businesses of Groves & Whitnall Limited. Mr. Leigh thus became one of the four original directors of the company and remained in charge of the soft drinks side of the business.