A brief history of a Family Wines and Spirits Company

with notes on their predeccessors and successors

compiled by Geoffrey MacLeod Hallowes.

  Shortly before the year 1876, Samuel More Richards inaugurated the firm Samuel Richards & Co. at 141 Fenchurch Street EC3 in the City of London. The company was appointed sole agent for Heidsieck & Co., Rheims, for the sale of "Dry Monopole" Champagne in the UK and the British Colonies. At a later date Edward Price Blackwood Hallowes became a partner and the firm continued until the death of Samuel Richards in 1898.
  In November 1898 M.E.O. Tosetti joined Edward Price Blackwood Hallowes as a partner and the company traded from 147 Fenchurch Street to which they had moved sometime earlier. The firm's only interest was "Dry Monopole" champagne and this continued until 31st. December 1920 when both M.E.O. Tosetti and E.P.B.Hallowes retired. The "Dry Monopole" agency was then tranferred from E.P.B. Hallowes to his son Edward Price Hallowes.
  On the 1st. January 1921, E. Price Hallowes merged with Richard Martin Bird and they established offices at 16 Water Lane. Great Tower Street, EC3. In addition to the "Dry Monopole" agency, the company also represented Bordeaux and Burgandy wine firms and a port wine house.
   When R. Martin Bird died suddenly in 1925, E. Price Hallowes made arrangments for an amalgamation with Twiss & Brownings of Mark Lane, EC3, who had held the representation of Hennessy Cognac Brandy since 1840. A new company was formed on 26th. April 1926 as Twiss & Brownings & Hallowes at 16 Water Lane, EC3. E. Price Hallowes became Chairman in 1929. Two other Directors retired respectively in 1947 and the early 50s.
   During the Second World War normal business was considerably curtailed. In 1940 the City of London received the first of many visits from German bombers. In the First World War London was bombed some 25 times and the Germans dropped more than 800 bombs. In 1940 10,000 incendinary bombs could be dropped in one night, and in the raids of December 1940 a large proportion of these bombs fell on the City. On the night of 29th. December 1940 the offices of Twiss & Brownings & Hallowes in 16 Water Lane were completely destroyed and all records were lost. Water Lane was never rebuilt.
  The principle Directors of Twiss & Brownings & Hallowes immediately after the war were E. Price Hallowes (Chairman) and the Hon. Frederick F.G. Hennessy (Vice Chairman). The latter had been appointed a Director on 1st. October 1939 but did not take an active part in the business until after the cessation of hostiilities. The only son of E. Price Hallowes, Geoffrey Macleod Hallowes, joined the company on the 1st. January 1947 and became a Director on the 1st. January 1949.
   With the end of the war TBH acquired offices in the City of London on the top floor of 1 Vitners Place, Upper Thames Street, EC4, above the Worshipful Company of Vitners. In 1949 the Company moved to premises in Suffolk House, 5 Laurence Pountney Hill, EC4. The agencies held at that time were:
Hennessy Cognac                                  Brandy
Heidsieck & Co. "Dry Monopole"                   Champagne
Delaforce                                        Port
Lillet                                           Apertif
Manuel Fernandez                                 Sherry
Hill Thomson                                     Queen Anne Scotch Whisky
Marie Brizard et Roger                           Liqueurs
Captain Morgan                                   Rum
Seagram                                          "V.O." Canadian Whisky
A few years later TBH acquired the agency for Chauvenet Burgandies.

   In 1951 the Company merged with Justerini & Brooks to create United Wine Traders.

  In 1959 E. Price Hallowes retired and passed the "Dry Monopole" agency to his son, Geoffrey M. Hallowes. The agency representation had always been a personal one to the Hallowes family by Heidsieck & Co. This arrangement continued until 1962, when IDV was created and a more formal agreement became neccessary.
  In 1962 United Wine Traders bought W. & A. Gilbey and because the Company was now not only an Agency house, a wholesaler and a retailer, but also an international distiller and a vinyard owner it was considered appropriate to change its name to International Distillers and Vitners. Geoffrey therefore became a founder director of IDV and remained on the main board for 21 years.
  In 1962, IDV was run by the Boards of its various subsidiary companies. Geoffrey's first appointment was as a Director of Gilbey, Twiss, the UK agency, wholesale and distributing company, which was the selling arm on the domestic UK market. At this time the agency for Heidsieck & Co. "Dry Monopole" Champagne had been held by the Hallowes family for over 80 years and in respect of Hennessy Cognac Brandy for 122 years. The agencies for "Dry Monopole" and Hennessy were relinquished by IDV in the 1970s and 1980s respectively.
  In late 1962 Geoffrey was made Director in charge of the European Wine Companies, which compromised Chateau Loudenne - just north of Bordeaux - and Croft in Portugal. These two Gilbey companies had been in the Gilbey portfolio since 1875 and 1908 respectively. Geoffrey was more a "wine" man than a "spirit" man, hence his appointment to the European Wine companies. He also spoke French and German and had on occasions when it was neccessary said a few words in Spanish and Portuguese. He never attempted Italian.
  Over the next six years IDV expanded its interests in Europe and by 1975 had not only a Company in Italy and Germany, but also two companies in Spain and had enlarged its interests in Portugal to include Delaforce Port, and had bought Piat in Burgandy which owned Bellicard in Avignon. Later, as part of a streamlining operation, the interests in Italy and Germany were sold, and an European selling arm created.
  In 1972 the European Wine Companies became known as "IDV Europe" of which Geoffrey became its first Chairman. In 1976 he relinquished his executive responsibilities in IDV Europe, but remained on the main IDV board until his retirement in 1983.

  Of course, this describes only a small part of the IDV operation. IDV Europe, IDV Home Trade, the Scottish Distilleries, Canada, Australia, South Africa and the operations in the USA were all financially much greater and the success of IDV lay in the strong support it gave to the marketing of its international brands - J. & B. Scotch Whisky, Smirnoff Vodka, Gilbey's Gin, Bailey's Irish Cream, Piat d'Or, Malibu and others. In 1996 IDV owned 5 of the top 20 spirit brands in the world. Smirnoff is the second largest spirit brand in the world.
  IDV grew steadily every year. In 1972 it was bought by Grand Metropolitan. With the increased financial muscle provided by this parent company, IDV went from strength to even greater success and greater strength. In 1994/95 Grand Metropolitan spent over £1 billion on existing brands, developing new brands, entering new markets and merging relevant acquisitions and alliances. This strategy followed what IDV had always done, the reason for its success - support for its brands.

  In 1998 Grand Metropolitan merged with Guinness; the Company is now called DIAGEO.