The Royal Bank of Canada © 1950’s, Junction Old Street and Kennedy Avenue (formerly Old Street). Originally Hotel de Paz in 1910. It currently houses Whitchurch IGA Supercenter on the Ground Floor. The First Floor houses the Travel Agency and the Main Office (Shipping & Tours, Insurance, Accounts, Sales).

H.H.V. Whitchurch & Company Limited was founded in Roseau, Dominica in 1910 by Herbert Harry Vivian Whitchurch.  Today, it is a private limited liability company, owned by the Aird family.

Harry Herbert Vivian Whitchurch was an estate manager in Dominica.  Born into a shop-keeping family in Southampton, England on November 15th 1869, Whitchurch came out to Dominica to manage various estates, including Woodford Hill, where he is said to have laid out Dominica’s first, and so far only, nine-hole golf course.

In 1910 Whitchurch went into business in Roseau, gradually building up a general and commission merchant enterprise, insurance, automobile and shipping agency, and dealership in dry goods, groceries and fuel.  Residents of Roseau always remember that Whitchurch as having the first “supermarket” in Dominica.  Appropriately, 100 years later, Whitchurch “IGA” Supercentre is a focal point of Dominica’s society.   So much so that one year, a young child on vacation for the first time in the United States of America with his family when pulling up to an “IGA” store in the U.S.A. promptly turned to his mother stating: “Mummy, see Whitchurch!”

Whitchurch continued expanding beyond these parameters and was made the agent for Lloyds of London (Insurance) in 1926.

Herbert Whitchurch and his family lived at Ross Cottage at Morne Bruce, Roseau.  One of his two daughters, Gwendolyn, married James Otto Aird, originally from Guyana (formerly British Guiana), who arrived to work in Dominica after serving in World War I.  Aird became the managing director of the Company on the event of Whitchurch’s death in 1946.  From that date forward, Whitchurch’s descendants have managed the Company.

Building purchased from L. Rose & Co. Currently houses MFS, Western Union and DHL Services, Junction Old Street and Kennedy Avenue (Formerly New Street) © 1960’s.

The company opened its doors as a grocery store operating out of an area of what was then “Hotel de Paz”.  As operations grew and the company’s portfolio expanded, they operated from buildings on Old Street until total destruction by fire in 1961.  As a result, the company purchased the old L. Rose & Co. Building on New Street (now Kennedy Avenue).  Whitchurch & Company sub sequentially sold this in 1984 and then repurchased and restored it in 2002.  Currently the agencies for Western Union, DHL and the company Millennium Freight Services (MFS – Agents for CMACGM, Econocaribe and Aeropost Network) operate from these premises.

After the ‘61 fire, the Old Street property was rebuilt and expanded, re-opening as a shopping centre in 1975, while new offices were completed in 1984.  Along with J.A.S. Garraway, (1828), A.A. Baron & Co., (1896), and L.A. Dupigny & Co. Ltd., (1918), H.H.V. Whitchurch & Co. Ltd. is among the longest serving merchant companies still operating in Dominica.

Over the last century, Whitchurch has provided Dominica with goods and services, which have assisted in the development of the nation.  As we celebrate a century of operation, we proudly boast a multifaceted portfolio ranging from duty free shopping, shipping,  insurance, Whitchurch Travel Agency, American Express Services, Whitchurch IGA Supercentre, Food Distribution and Wholesale, tours, Whitchurch Portsmouth, agents for cruise ships, Western Union Money Transfer, DHL, SOL EC Ltd., alongside sister companies Ground Handlers Limited and Millennium Freight Services.  Whitchurch celebrates 100 years of providing not only goods and services to the people and visitors alike of Dominica, but also presently employs over 235 Dominicans.

Over the years, Whitchurch has consulted its simple, straightforward mission statement in maintaining its course direction, giving back to the community at large through various sponsorships, donations and involvement in educational, socio-economic and historical programs across the island.

“H.H.V. Whitchurch and Company Limited is a Dominica Company committed to providing products and services that enhance the quality of life of all our customers and the people of Dominica.

High quality goods and services
Affordable prices
Good customer service”

On November 15th, the birth date of Harry Herbert Vivian Whitchurch, the official celebration of Whitchurch’s Centenary Year is to be recognised.

As Whitchurch celebrates its Centenary Year it continues to bring its mission to life, expanding its outreach, to offer its services and goods to Dominican society.

About Business In Focus

The purpose of this feature is to showcase businesses in Dominica to the local and international market, so readers can know a little bit more about their products, services and history. This is also a way of helping businesses in Dominica to strengthen the image of their product and boost sales.

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