W.D & H.O.Wills (Australia) Ltd began manufacturing tobacco products in 1913 at its Raleigh Park factory in Kensington, Sydney. In 1945 an estate of 16 acres was purchased at East Bentleigh, Melbourne, with a further 22 acres purchased later and the Virginia Park manufacturing branch was established.
The 1950s were to be one of the most successful decades in the company’s history and it enjoyed a peak of 83 per cent market share in 1954. But this was also a period of increased competition as Phillip Morris and Rothmans entered the Australian tobacco market. By 1972, increased competition meant that the company’s market share had slipped to 39%. By the time tobacco advertising was banned on Australian radio and television in 1976, Wills' market share had fallen a further 6%. In 1985 Wills combined the separate factory operations in Sydney and in Melbourne into one site at Pagewood, Sydney which took on the name Virginia Park. In 1989 W.D & H.O.Wills (Australia) became a subsidiary of the British American Tobacco Industries group of companies. 1999 British American Tobacco merged with global competitor Rothmans International. Rothmans in Australia and Wills merged to form the wholly-owned subsidiary British American Tobacco Australia. The merger left British American Tobacco Australia, Phillip Morris and Imperial Tobacco Australia
A tin with a hinged lid for 'Champion' Tobacco flakes
Inscriptions & markings
CHAMPION / HIGHEST GRADE / CUT TOBACCO / MANUFACTURED BY / THE BRITISH AUSTRALIAN TOBACCO CO.PTY.LTD