History

 

G. Shankerdas & Sons (SL) Limited was established in 1939 by the proprietor and founder Mr. Gagandas U. Mahboobani, an Indian National, who came to Sierra Leone early in the 20th Century and was engaged in various forms of partnership with friends in merchandise activities. He subsequently ventured into his own business in 1939 under the name of G. Shankerdas.

The newly formed business operated as a sole proprietorship and was engaged in similar activities as the former partnership. As the business activities expanded, his son, Mr. G. Shankerdas (the current chairman of the company) joined the proprietor in the management of the business in 1944.

 

 


Founder

Through his zeal and dedication, the business experienced rapid growth in size, turnover, and investment capital, which eventually led to the acquisition of the assets of M. Jourdan & Co. Limited in 1961 and the start up of small scale industrial activities in Bottling Plant and Wine Production. In the same year however, Mr. Gagandas died and the mantle of managing the business was left in the hands of his son, Mr. G. Shankerdas. As the years went by, the business experienced rapid growth in all micro-economic indicators (including employment, contribution to government revenue, turnover, etc.) and at the same time, ventured into other industrial activities.


The mid 1970s saw the transformation in the status of the business through restructuring of the management team and the renaming of the business as G. Shankerdas & Sons, a partnership consisting of family members only. During this era, specifically in 1976, Mr. Kishore Shankerdas – grandson of the founder – joined the family business. Amongst the newly established industrial activities that came into being was the Plastic Factory (1978), which today is the largest plastic manufacturing industry in Sierra Leone. During the period of 1978 to 1985, the bottling plant was expanded into distillery and blending of alcoholic beverages with the brand name “Pegapak” (such as gin, brandy, whiskey, vodka, etc). As the expansion activities continued, other small-scale industries were developed such as: candle manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, packaging of ointments and petroleum jelly, Stationary division, and Pulp division (such as sanitary pads and facial tissues).

 
 

In 1986, the status of the business was transformed into a Limited Liability Company, and had a workforce of approximately 400 employees. In this year, the company began its venture into the Agricultural sector (specifically for the production of rubber and fruit crops) by leasing 500 and 120 acres of land at Grafton and Newton respectively from the Government of Sierra Leone. In 1991 a subsidiary company, the Sierra Leone Rubber Company was formed by the leasing of 5 Rubber estates, of approximately 53,000 acres, in the Southern and Easter Provinces. However, as a result of the rebel war of March 1991 to January 2002, not only were these farms completely destroyed, but the company had to scale down its activities and its workforce fell to 250 employees.

In 1996, G. Shankerdas & Sons (SL) Limited acquired the assets of Wellington Distilleries Limited from the Government of Sierra Leone which has since been renamed R. K. Distilleries Ltd. R. K. Distilleries is presently producing alcoholic beverages under the brand name “Diamond” (such as Gin, Whisky, Brandy, etc.).


In 1999, a multi-purpose building, which housed the Candle factory, the Stationery Division, Pulp Division and Packaging Division, was burnt to the ground when the rebels stormed Freetown and attacked the factory complex. During this period, Mr. Kishore Shankerdas and other members of his staff were held hostage by the rebel forces. The company suffered the loss of three expatriates and one local staff member by death at the hands of the rebels.
In January 2002, the brutal rebel war was declared over by the President of the Republic, and the Company focused on the reconstruction of the factory building together with an expansion programme.

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