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Carst & Walker is part of Hobart Enterprises, the holding company of specialty distribution, supply chain and processing companies worldwide. A combination of acquisitions and greenfield developments have reinforced the Group’s footprint in specific regions for over two decades. Carst & Walker has expanded to become a substantial importer and distributor of specialty chemicals and additives. Our team operate from strategically located offices in each region and are supported with local warehouse facilities. Our extensive product range is sourced from some of the world’s finest raw material and ingredient producers.
A Story Shaped by Entrepreneurs
The entrepreneurial vision that led to the formation of Carst & Walker in 1934 continues. It was, and is, this entrepreneurial spirit that grew Carst & Walker from a small commodities trader to the extensive solutions-driven importer, exporter and distributor it is today.
Who was Carst?
Peer Carst, known as PC, hailed from the Netherlands and went to the former Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) as a youngster and joined Mirandolle Voûte, a commodity trading company. During the depression years, leading steamship company, KPM approached various trading companies to contribute cargo and a representative in order to make a trial trip to Africa. PC was elected to go, and the ship berthed in Durban in July 1931, thereafter calling at Cape Town. It was here that PC met Reginald Walker and AW Jones.
Dynamic and outgoing, PC’s favourite saying was, “I do not want you to wait for things to happen, but I want you to make things happen,” a tenet Carst & Walker still upholds.
Who was Walker?
A soft-spoken British gentleman, Reginald (Reg) Walker started his apprenticeship in 1907 with tea merchants, Joseph Tetley & Co Ltd. Working his way up through the company, Reg became number one assistant to the tea buyer. He was then sent to Harrisons & Crosfield and, in September 1911, sailed for Columbo. The company retrenched him due to losses and he arrived back in Britain during the war. Blown up in France in November 1916, he spent the next seven months on sick leave. He was accepted for the King’s African Rifles and set foot in Africa for the first time on 12 June 1918 at Freetown. Reg contracted malaria and Spanish influenza and was sent to hospital in Cape Town. There he found a tea business for sale and so began his career as a business owner.
Visualising Our History
The Carst & Walker journey began on 1 February 1932 when Reginald Walker started trading as R Walker in Cape Town.
There he met Peer Carst and also introduced him to AW Jones. The three of them started a shipping agency business together in January 1934. Called AW Jones, Walker & Carst (Pty) Ltd, they established themselves in Balfour House in Cape Town.
When war broke out, AW Jones, Walker & Carst had three offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Supplies became more difficult, especially vegetable oils and oil seeds.
PC took a trip to the Congo and returned with the sole selling rights for Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil. PC also organised sole rights to coffee from the Congo. During the war, Brazil came into the picture with timber, rice and textiles, with textiles holding a prominent place in the company for many years.
Jones exited the business and in July 1944, the name changed to Carst & Walker (Pty) Ltd. The company moved its head office to Johannesburg and traded strongly in other commodities such as Cocoa, Spices, Grains, Milk Powder and Vegetable Oils.
Reg retired in 1955 and PC in 1957. Now recognised as a primary manufacturers’ representative in timber, textiles, chemicals, produce and other general trading items, the company was trading as Carst & Walker Holdings (Proprietary) Limited from 1958 onwards.
As a result of the acquisition in the late 1930s of the Harrisons & Crosfield’s tea agency from Ceylon, Carst & Walker was acting as a selling agent for its subsidiary, British Borneo Timber Company, introducing the company into the timber market. This relationship also resulted in tea from India, and North/South China.
In 1959, Harrisons and Crosfield Limited of London, was invited to purchase 50% of the share capital of Carst & Walker.
In 1969, Carst & Walker Holdings (Proprietary) Limited became a public company and changed its name to Carst and Walker Holdings Limited.
Some of the subsidiaries in the group in that period included:
- Carst & Walker (Textiles) (Pty) Ltd
- Carst & Walker (Chemicals) (Pty) Ltd
- Carst & Walker Rhodesia (Pvt.) Ltd
In 1977 Harissons & Crosfield disposed of its shareholding in Carst & Walker. The formation of an employee trust in September 1978 facilitated the management to purchase out the existing shareholders of Carst & Walker (C&W).
In August 1978, Carst & Walker Rhodesia (Pvt) Ltd. was one of 22 Rhodesian companies that dropped the word “Rhodesia” from their titles. The company was renamed as Fertilisers, Commodities and Chemicals (Pvt) Ltd.
C&W’s export sales were conducted through a wholly owned subsidiary, General Commodity Sales (Pty) Ltd. The fertiliser business through Fertilisers and Chemicals (Pty) Ltd now had a 50% interest in Carst & Walker (Pvt) Ltd, based in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Towards the end of the decade, the company saw the shareholders contemplating the internationalisation of the “Carst & Walker” brand as a specialist distributor of raw materials and exiting non-core interests in logistics, warehousing and groupage services.
This period also saw the closing of Carst & Walker (Zimbabwe) Ltd. In 1996 Anchor Chemicals acquired a license agreement with Lord Corporation, manufacturing rubber-to-metal adhesives exclusively distributed through Carst & Walker.
The first company outside of southern Africa was registered in Perth, Western Australia, Carst & Walker (Australia) Pty Ltd.
A small plastics trading company called Universal Polymer Supplies Ltd. based in Perth, Western Australia, started in 1993 by Jim Buchanan, a former employee in South Africa in the 1980s was acquired. Universal Polymer Supplies distributed Engineering Polymer resins to the plastic injection moulding and extrusion industry.
In September 2001, Carst & Walker (UK) Ltd was registered with a focus on developing South African based suppliers.
Hobart Enterprises Ltd was established in the Isle of Man and purchases controlling interest in Carst & Walker (United Kingdom) and Carst & Walker (South Africa).
Desmond Rothwell and John Kistner were both made redundant in the early 1980s. In 1983 they decided to set up their own respective businesses. Desmond founded Chemox Ltd and John started Tradebase Ltd.
After a couple of years Desmond sold Chemox to John Kistner and went to work for AV Pound & Co Ltd.
In 2006 Chemox was acquired by the Hobart Group and John retired in 2007. The company was selling into Polymers, Coatings and Adhesives, Animal Feed, Construction, Cleaning Products and the Flavours and Fragrance industries.
Building on decades of trade into the region and supporting key group suppliers to establish a local presence in the region, a new entity was registered – Carst & Walker (East Africa) Ltd. The focus was to build local technical support for our raw material portfolios in Adhesives, Coatings, Home Care, Personal Care, Animal Feed and Rubber.
Albert Victor Pound worked for a large commodity trading company Davis Brothers & Co in London and when it filed for bankruptcy in 1929 he was left without a job. Albert borrowed £25 from his wife and went to a key French supplier to obtain the agency for Gum Rosin. Along with support from Lever Brothers (Unilever today) in the UK, he started A.V. Pound & Co Ltd.
The company extended into Gum Rosin, Gum Turpentine and Wood Rosin, and when industrial demand in the United Kingdom dropped, the company expanded globally into derivatives of these products. Following on from his father and grandfather, Gordon Pound joined the company in 1989.
In 2010, AV Pound & Co joined the Hobart Group, contributing substantially to the Carst & Walker distribution businesses globally.
Established in 1978, Capricorn Chemicals owes its heritage to the original Dane & Company, which started as a printing ink company in East London in 1853. The Dane Group of Companies went on to be a specialist ink company and was eventually represented in the United Kingdom through its two subsidiaries, Capricorn Chemicals Ltd and Dane Distribution Ltd. Capricorn was involved in the sales, marketing and distribution of speciality chemicals and pigments to the surface coating and plastics industries. Its key partners included: Lubrizol Performance Coatings, Nubiola, Brilliant Group, Nitro Química and its own branded speciality pigments called Apex.
Incosmetics (Pty) Ltd was established in 1992 by Bonnie Espie who remained the sole shareholder when the company joined C&W. Incosmetics was involved with the sales, marketing and distribution of speciality raw materials into the personal care and associated industries.
West African Textile Services (Pty) Ltd (WATS) was acquired. It was originally a joint venture between a United Kingdom and South African based entity and their associates in Nigeria.
Founded in January 1995, WATS was formed to develop the trading opportunities presented by South Africa’s re-admittance into the Commonwealth and other international bodies.
Medical Export Co Ltd (Medex) was also acquired in 2014. Medex was established in 1981 as a start-up business based on a project Stephen Cousens undertook to supply small packs of pharmaceutical chemicals. Medex is a pharmaceutical supply company, now serving businesses in Medical, Healthcare, Hospital, United Nations, and Governmental markets to over 70 countries.
Company of Aromas was registered in 1994 by Maria Quelho. It had been supplying raw materials to the Food, Cosmetic and Pharmaceutical industries, with a specific focus on the flavour industry. The company was only active in the Gauteng region of South Africa, with a few export orders to Zimbabwe. Carst & Walker acquired them in 2016.
Axis Chemicals Pty Ltd was established in 1997 as a specialist supplier of raw materials to the adhesive, printing ink, paint and resin industries in Australia. Axis suppliers were based mainly in the Far East and the USA, with warehouses located in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and is now incorporated into Carst & Walker.
In late 2020, the assets of Mono Pigment Developments Ltd were purchased for the supply and distribution of a branded portfolio of pigments including grades of carbon black, aluminium pigments and bronze powders.
Operating from Nairobi, Kenya since 1994, Craftsman Enterprises is primarily involved with the sales, marketing and distribution of speciality raw materials to the Surface Coating, Ink and Adhesive industries. Craftsman brings a complementary portfolio of products to offer our customers under the Carst & Walker banner in East Africa.