The Union Agencies

The Union Agencies


The Union Agencies was one of the biggest agents and brokers in Rhodesia of the 1930s. It represented dozens of big and “fashionable” companies (champagne producer Heidsieck, cognac producer Martell etc.).

The owner was Samuel Rabinovitz (b.1894) was born in Romania, but as a child he left with his family to Rhodesia via Britain and finally settled in Bulawayo where he got a position of a succesful businessman.

In 1935, Rabinovitz, as a board member of the Bulawayo Chamber of Commerce, was sent by Southern Rhodesian government for a mission to India to find a market for Rhodesian tobacco; he succeeded in this task but he also broadened his contacts with one of the most important Czechoslovak companies of that times – the Baťa Shoe Company.Rabinovitz  (as Baťa´s representative in Bulawayo) found that Rhodesia was a prospective market for their shoes, which he imported from 1934. While the volume of trade increased, he even employed a Czech, Jan Kasperlík, to deal with Czechoslovak companies, and in 1937 travelled to Czechoslovakia to arrange closer cooperation with local manufacturers.

Probably during this visit S. Rabinovitz persuaded the Baťa Company´s president, Tomáš Baťa, to establish his own shoe production facility in Southern Rhodesia (to be realized later in 1939).