uac of Nigeria Plc has a rich and varied history of successful enterprise that pre-dates the geographical entity called Nigeria. The rumps of the Company's early days can be traced to the activities of European traders and commercial activities.
The Company has evolved through a series of mergers and acqusitions and restructurings as the various entrepreneurs sought to enthrone profitable and enduring enterprises.
One of the most significant developments in the company's history was the setting up of the Royal Niger Company, which was chartered between 1672 and 1750 to administer the territory that would later become Nigeria.
In 1879, the United African Company was found following the merger of four Companies trading up the River Niger: Alexander Miller Brother & Company, Central African Trading Company Limited; West African Company Limited and James Pinnock.
Following the intense rivalry among the European nations in the 1880s, The National African Company Limited was floated to take over the assets of The United African Company. In 1886, The National African Company Limited was Chartered & Limited when the British Government issued it a Charter after the Berlin Conference.
The logo of the The Royal Niger Company was a device with three arms symbolizing the main waterways of the territory; on each arm was a single short word: 'ARS', 'JUS', 'PAX'.
PAX stood for “peace and order” which the Company evolved to stem the “anarchy and barbarism of the Niger Territories ” and safeguard the “numerous British and French trading interests in the Niger, which unity of action was an absolutely necessary antecedent to successful trade….”
ARS refers to "the skill in trade and liberal arts", which practical benefit European civilization brought to the millions in Central Africa. The subjective aspect is ingenuity - commercial and political - without which Unity and Equity would have failed.
JUS is "the actual law and legal rights" established by public authority (the Royal Charter), without which peace would be unstable and the progress of commerce and arts hopeless. It represented just conduct and equity a pre-requisite for legitimacy.
In 1889, The African Association was incorporated by the merger of eight firms that were operating in the Oil Rivers area. In 1892, The Royal Niger Company brought in Captain Lugard (later to be known as Lord Lugard ) to help protect its interest in Nigeria. Lord Lugard would later become the first Governor-General of Nigeria.
Following the revocation of the charter, Royal Niger Company changed its Company name to The Niger Company Limited in 1900.
In 1919, The Niger Company Limited was bought by Lever Brothers Limited. That same year, The Miller Brothers Limited and the African Association United to form the African & Eastern Trade Corporation.
On March 3, 1929, The United Africa Company was formed by the joint agreements of The African & Eastern Trade Corporation and the Niger Company (Owned by Lever Brothers Limited).
uac was first incorporated in Lagos, Nigeria under the name Nigerian Motors Ltd on April 22, 1931 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United Africa Company Ltd. (a subsidiary of Unilever), which later became UAC International. The Company's name was changed to United Africa Company ( Nigeria ) Ltd on 23rd July 1943.
It became The United Africa Company of Nigeria Ltd on 1st February, 1955 and started acquiring, over a period of five years, a large part of the business of UACI. In 1960 C.W.A. Holdings Ltd, England also a subsidiary of Unilever, acquired UACI's interest in the company.
The name was changed to UAC of Nigeria Limited on 1 st March, 1973.
In compliance with the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Act 1972, 40 percent of the company's share capital was acquired in 1974 by Nigerian citizens and associations and in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Act 1977, an additional 20 percent of the uac's share capital was publicly offered in 1977, increasing Nigerian equity participation to 60 percent.
The name UAC of Nigeria Plc was adopted in 1991.
In 1994, following the divestment of 40% interest in the Company by Unilever PLC, the Company became a wholly-owned Nigerian Company. The transformation of uac from a trading behemoth into a leading manufacturing concern, even though it took root in the 1980s, was given serious impetus in 1990s, following the exit of the company from its trading businesses.
In early 2000, uac further embarked on a series of business restructuring with a thorough portfolio review and switch of focus to value-adding operations. This has led to an era of focused growth on the foods, real estate, logistics and automobile sectors.
Today, uac has become a Food–focused Conglomerate with leading brands such as Mr Biggs, Gala, Grand Oils, Supreme, SWAN Natural Spring Water and Gossy Spring Water. The Company's brand portfolio also includes franchised international food brands such as Creamy Inn, Chicken Inn and Pizza Inn.