As we approach our bi-centenary in 2025 we have reflected below on some of the historic milestones of the business. There have been many changes over the past 200 or so years and whilst we remain custodians of some of our original assets and businesses, many have come and gone. The business has constantly evolved and will need to continue to do so as societal, ecological and political influences take effect. We are immensely grateful to the five previous generations and our wonderful colleagues and partners who have each played their part in steering the business through unchartered and at times, troubled waters. We intend to remain both a family run and Jersey based business and we look forward with confidence to writing the next chapter.
The company was founded by 21-year old cabinet maker Richard Le Gallais.
Born in the last quarter of the reign of King George IV, Richard commenced his own business in 1825 from premises at 37 Broad Street, St Helier, Jersey. The furniture workshops prospered and a large volume of trade was exported with half the product being shipped to Canada and Newfoundland which had extremely close links to Jersey because of the Cod fishing trade.
A move was made from Broad Street to No 2 Hill Street after a few years, to take advantage of greater space where the potential skills of available staff could be utilised to better advantage.
The business prospered in the early years and was rewarded with a Royal Warrant during the reign of Queen Victoria.
Richard Le Gallais was chosen to furnish chairs for the States Chamber, home of the States Assembly (Jersey's Parliament), for the visit of Queen Victoria. As a result of this, the Royal Warrant was awarded to the Firm, a landmark in the development of the business and as far as is known the only Royal Warrant approved by the Monarch for any firm in Jersey up to that date.
The business moves to No 1 Old Street.
On the 22nd May 1847 a fire destroyed the workshops in Hill Street and it was necessary to obtain new premises, found at No 1 Old Street where the business continued under the direction of the founder until his death on 23rd January 1870.
The business moved to new premises in Bath Street.
At this point in time, the main activity of the workshops was still the making of furniture. During this period, Richard's youngest son Francis Edwin joined the Firm. Francis Edwin was apprenticed in the making of furniture to his father.
The removal and storage warehousing business was established.
This department was based at premises in Hilgrove Street. These were former grain stores and apart from storage on the upper floors, the ground floor provided excellent stabling for the horses.
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The Auctioneering department started holding weekly sales.
In 1884 Francis Le Gallais made application to the Royal Warrant Authority for a renewal of the the original grant to the Firm made in 1846 and on the 16th June 1884 the Royal Warrant was granted to him for his lifetime; this enabled him to advertise and use the Authority by renaming the Auction Rooms "The Royal Auction Rooms".
The birth of the Estate Agency, featuring ‘house lists’.
By the turn of the century Francis Le Gallais had the assistance of his two eldest sons in the business, William the eldest son having joined in 1896 and Carlyle the second son joined in 1898.
During this time, Jersey was taking the first steps towards becoming a holiday resort. A few hotels were available for visitors, then some guest and boarding houses plus a growing activity whereby houseowner were prepared to rent their houses to summer visitors. This impetus of holiday interests gave birth to the Estate side of the business in Bath Street, beginning in a small way with house lists. It was a natural sequence of events that such growth would develop into the Estate Agency, the oldest in the Island.
The evolution from horse drawn to motorised vehicles.
With the outbreak of war in 1914 tremendous pressure fell on the Warehousing Branch to store either household effects for people who had to leave the Island or to clear properties requisitioned by the Services as barracks.
The early 1920's saw changes in the handling of shipments and delivery services for Island customers. Although it was a wrench to change from using the horses, progress called for the purchase of Motor Transport, the first of which was a Ford Chassis with a canvas tilt, matching the horse drawn vans.
The centenary of the firm was celebrated under the direction of Carlyle Le Gallais at the time.
Following the Centenary year a number of improvements occurred - the Firm gave up its own electricity generators and a new supply was provided by the Jersey Electricity Co. for the whole of St Helier. To facilitate an adequate supply of fuel for the growing fleet of vehicles in use by 1927 large petrol tanks and pumps were installed in the warehouses.
Strange as it may seem, the Firm expanded on the services it offered including the purchase of a commercial vacuum device which was then mounted on a Ford chassis and could travel from house to house to clean carpets, curtains and upholstery.
In 1932 the next generation of the Le Gallais family appeared when Frank Le Gallais and his cousin Geoffrey entered the business.
Jersey is occupied by the Nazis.
In the first six months of the war many members of staff left on call up for the forces and others volunteered for the Services. Immediately following the Liberation of the Island in May 1945, great efforts were required to re-establish the business. The period 1945-1948 was a time of consolidation; the retail showrooms had been re-stocked, new motor vehicles purchased, and all departments were in full operation.
A devastating fire destroys the company's premises in Bath Street
The Company found temporary premises that allowed the business to start operating again just seventeen days after the fire. This would not have been possible without the fantastic help given by staff, suppliers, neighbours, carriers and many local trade friends.
The Department store boomed during the 1960s.
The arrival of the next generation arrived in 1960 when Frank's son Peter Le Gallais joined the Firm. The trading businesses which now included Removals & Storage, Home Furnishers, Auctions and the Estate Agency prospered during a high inflation era in Jersey.
The commercial real estate side of the business started.
Having acquired significant real estate to facilitate the operation of the trading businesses, Peter le Gallais was keen to ensure that assets provided an economic return and saw the benefits of leasing surplus space to third parties. This was the start of start of a diversification into the fledgling Jersey commercial real estate sector.
Under the stewardship of Peter Le Gallais, the 5th generation to run the firm, Le Gallais Real Estates made its first off island investment into UK commercial property with the purchase of a Royal Mail sorting office in Ringwood, Hampshire. Jersey continued to boom as an offshore financial services location and the Firm benefited from a buoyant economy. Whilst this growth was positive, Peter's strategy looked to build a business outside of the Island that would help to diversify the risks of operating in a small Island economy.
The company sets up its commercial real estate development arm
Tim Le Gallais, the sixth generation, joined the business in the 1990's. It was during this period that the real estate side of the business saw significant growth. In the early 2000's the company decided to set up a development arm, principally focused on the UK light industrial, warehousing and logistics property sector. Developments were undertaken in a number of areas including South Coast, South-East and the Midlands.
Conversion of St. Helier depository and removals building to Self Storage.
The Company set up the first self storage facility in the Island, investing in the St Helier depository buildings in Hilgrove Street.
The company develops further logistics units in the Midlands at Northampton and Redditch.
Le Gallais Real Estates delivers 3 new buildings. The first is a speculatively built 113,000 sq ft logistics unit on the popular Brackmills Trading Estate in Northampton, close to Junction 15 M1 Motorway. The second development consists of 2 warehouse units of 50,600 sq ft and 114,000 sq ft situated at Ravensbank Business Park in Redditch in the West Midlands.
The company refurbishes 3 floors of offices at 48-64 Bath Street in Jersey.
After the previous tenant vacated the building, a comprehensive refurbishment programme was undertaken to modernise the 3 upper floors of the Grade 3 listed building to provide modern Grade 'A' office accommodation in a range of sizes from 1,000 sq ft to in excess of 10,000 sq ft. All 9 office suites are subsequently let.
Each Christmas the building is decorated with 26 Christmas trees, something that has happened for generations.
Five Oaks Trade Park development, Jersey
The Company acquired the former Jersey Evening Post headquarters in 2020 after the JEP moved their offices to one of the suites within the Le Gallais Building in Bath Street, St Helier.
The site was redeveloped to provide retail, self storage and light industrial accommodation on the 2 acre site. The site hosts the 2nd Le Gallais Self Storage business which opened in May 2022, along with units let to Channel islands Cooperative Society and YESSS Electrical Group.
The company develops Christchurch Trade Park.
The 2 acre site, formerly home to the Office for National Statistics was acquired in order to redevelop and provide a modern Trade Counter facility on a bust road leading into Christchurch on the south coast of the UK. Two drive through units were let to Costa Coffee and Burger King and the 9 Trade Counter units were let to a mix of national and local occupiers.