W.D. & H.O. Wills was a British tobacco importer and cigarette manufacturer formed in Bristol, England. It was one of the founding companies of Imperial Tobacco.
The company was founded as Wills, Watkins & Co. by Henry Overton Wills I and his partner Watkins in 1786. After the retirement of his partner in 1789 it became Wills & Co.. From 1791 to 1793 the company was known as Lilly, Wills & Co when it merged with the firm of Peter Lilly, who owned a snuff mill on the Land Yeo at Barrow Gurney, and then, from 1793 to his retirement in 1803, as Lilly and Wills. In 1826 his two sons, William Day Wills and Henry Overton Wills took over the company and in 1830 the company took the above name.
The company pioneered canteens for the workers, free medical care, sports facilities and paid holidays. Their first brand was Bristol, made at the London factory from 1871 to 1974. Three Castles and Gold Flake followed in 1878 and Woodbine ten years later. Embassy was introduced in 1914 and relaunched in 1962 with coupons.
In 1901 Sir William Henry Wills et al. formed the Imperial Tobacco company from a merger of W.D. & H.O. Wills with seven other British tobacco companies. Imperial remains one of the world's largest tobacco companies.
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