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Petone's First 100 Years (1940)


The Wellington Woollen Mfg. Company, Ltd.
Hallmark Of Quality.

Few manufacturing firms in the district can claim a longer connection with Petone than does the Wellington Woollen Manufacturing Company, Ltd., which during 58 years of registered existence has built for itself the reputation that is embodied in the "Petone" trademark.
The company was registered on June 9th, 1882, with a nominal capital of £100,000, and Sir William Fitzherbert was the first Chairman of Directors.
On November 26th, 1885, the Hon. Robert Stout, Premier of New Zealand, laid the foundation stone of the Mill building. Manufacture of goods of the pure woollen type (rugs, blankets, flannel, suitings, dress materials, and knitting yarn) commenced the following year.
The land, buildings, and machinery at opening cost £32,819. Mr. T. K. Macdonald, who succeeded Sir William Fitzherbert as Chairman, retired in 1893, and was replaced by the Hon. C. J. Johnston, M.L.C. At that time, the actual capital of this rapidly developing industry was £57,271. A warehouse and clothing factory were established in 1896, and a worsted plant was added to the Mill buildings in 1904. A further addition of a knitting plant took place in 1913.
In 1907 the nominal capital was increased to £200,000, the actual capital being then £82,850, and the property value £70,573. Mr. W. H. P. Barber, the present Chairman, first took that office in 1910, when the capital called was £115,350. In 1924, the nominal capital was increased to its present amount of £300,000 by issue of 20,000 preference shares. Plant and machinery in 1927 were valued at £233,232, and the capital called to its nominal value of £300,000.
At the present time, 1940, the reserves of the company amount to £77,019. Floating assets are £246,954, and fixed assets £229,773. An amount of £207,334 has been written-off as depreciation of plant and machinery.
Some idea of the size of the concern can be given when it is stated that the operatives, warehouse and office employees number 900. Branch warehouses, all of them large, are in operation at Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin, and an efficient selling staff covers the whole of the Dominion.
The present directorate, 1940, is Messrs. W. H. P. Barber (Chairman), A. E. Mabin, A. E. Allison, i.s.o., W. Watson, and Dr. C. Prendergast Knight, ll.d. The Secretary and General-Manager is Mr. A. E. Donne. Mr. C. L. Ramsden, Mill Manager, Mr. W. Kerr, Clothing Factory Manager, and Mr. W. T. Spencer, Sales Manager.
The history of the company is one of steady growth. As a well-planned enterprise, it has developed without crises. The quality of its products was established early in its history, and has been the prime reason for its success, as well as its finest advertisement.

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