Motibhai Group 90th Anniversary: The purchase of Pacific Mercantile Co. Ltd

Representatives of Motibhai and Stinson Pearce Group were pictured at the signing ceremony in Suva. They are (seated centre) managing director of Motibhai Mahendra Patel, Motibhai’s lawyer Sir Robert Munro (right front) and in the back row from left are Motibhai director, Suresh Patel, directors of Stinson Pearce Reg Woodman, Sir Charles Stinson and director of Motibhai, David East. Picture: FT FILE

Motibhai and Co. Ltd bought Pacific Mercantile Co. Ltd, the holding company of the Stinson Pearce Group and it was to continue to trade under the name of Stinson Pearce Ltd. “Motibhai and Co. Ltd valued the long association the two families have had with trading in Fiji,” Motibhai’s managing director Mahendra Patel said.

The takeover deal was signed in Suva at 5pm in the boardroom of Coopers and Lybrand, an accounting firm. Sir Charles Stinson, founder of the Stinson Pearce group of companies, was at the signing ceremony and The Fiji Times believed that Motibhai paid more than $8 million for Pacific Mercantile.

The Pacific Mercantile takeover meant that Motibhai owned the 14 Prouds shops throughout Viti Levu and the wholesale distribution of high technology, electronics and luxury goods and likely to add another 20 to 30 internationally famous agencies to Motibhai’s range of agencies.

It also took over the old Suva Motors property of Pacific Mercantile which has a board room and a service centre for the Stinson Group.

It also took over the Pacific Mercantile indent trading and after-sales service centres.

The Stinson Pearce Group was left with its Soqulu Holdings, the Taveuni Estates Ltd, some shares in Beach Press, weekly tourist publication and 50 per cent shares in Island Bottlers of Fiji. It had a toy operation in New Zealand, Toy Warehouse Ltd, but had already agreed on its sale.

“It only needs to be formalised,” said Frank Fischl, a partner in Price Waterhouse who had been seconded to Stinson Pearce to handle its affairs.

Pacific Mercantile general manager Ken Dyer continued in that position, but Donna Mulvey, a former accountant with Motibhai, took over as the company’s financial controller.

The managing director of Motibhai, Mahendra Patel, said there would be no further immediate changes and assured the 130 staff of the new company.

Mr Patel said there had been a feeling of insecurity among the employees because of the take-over and said he had talked to all the branch managers on the phone to try to reassure them. Motibhai took over the Pacific Mercantile operation followed a weekend stock-take at all Prouds shops and company bulk stores.

Sir Charles and another company director Reg Woodman, who also attended the signing of the take-over deal, spoke to employees of the company at its headquarters in Walu Bay.

The Stinson Pearce Group of companies was founded in 1972 as Stinson Investments Ltd, but on February 17 1975 changed its name to Stinson Pearce Ltd and became the principal trading partner of the group.

On January 1, 1979 it changed its name again to Pacific Mercantile Company Ltd.

This report was published in The Fiji Times on July 2 1985.

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