In 1903, brothers Robert and Edward Evans founded a company called Evans Brothers, London focused on the publication of teacher training journals and periodicals. Initially headquartered at the brothers’ residence at 118 Newgate Street, London, England, early Evans Brothers publications included some of the foremost teacher training materials of the time, such as The Education News of Scotland, Irish School Weekly, Woman Teacher’s World (1911–13), The Word Master, The Music Teacher, Child Education, and The School Mistress. In the first year of operations, the company grossed 150 pounds.
In the 1930s, Evans Brothers London moved into book publishing, with emphasis on children’s books. Notable titles from the Evans stable included the Evans War Classics, Dam Busters, and a number of titles from the prolific British children’s writer Enid Blyton.
EARLY INTEREST IN NIGERIA
In 1945 the company, under Noel Evans (a second generation Evans) decided to venture outside the United Kingdom. They hired a consultant to come out to Nigeria and research the book needs of the then British colony of Nigeria. That consultant was Dr. L. C. Larcombe. That trip led to his writing of the Larcombe’s Progressive Arithmetic (Lower, Middle and Upper Standard). The series became a household name in primary education, dominating the primary arithmetic market in Nigeria in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The Larcombe textbook still remains a strong brand albeit in a substantially adapted form.
The success of the Larcombe publication and other early publications for Nigeria such as Civics for Self Government by J. R. Bunting led to the appointment of a resident representative in Nigeria to promote the interest of the company. The first Resident Representative appointed was Ove Stentort and he made the university town of Ibadan his base, one of the primary reasons why Ibadan remains the publishing capital of Nigeria. It was during his time that a property was acquired on Akinola Maja Street in Jericho, on which a residential building/contact point was erected. That property still stands today and serves as the company’s guest house. Other subsequent resident representatives who played roles in firmly entrenching Evans in Nigeria were Commander Moss and Reg Mackenzie.
INCORPORATION OF THE NIGERIAN COMPANY
By the 1960s, with education developing fast in Nigeria, Evans felt ready to move to the next level of expansion. The need was felt to embark on more targeted publishing and stronger marketing and distribution. A decision to set up a fully fledged Nigerian company was taken and Evans Brothers (Nigeria Publishers) Limited was formed. The company was issued a certificate of incorporation on 6 December 1966, with business taking off in earnest early the following year. Mr Joop Berkhout was appointed its pioneer General Manager and subsequently, Managing Director.
The first board of directors of the company comprised His Highness Alhaji Zulu Gambari, Emir of Ilorin, Mrs. Titilola Sodeinde and Mr. Eyo Ita. These three served with Joop Berkhout under the chairmanship of Mr. John Leslie Browning who also doubled as the Chairman of Evans London. He was a member of the Evans family, having married a Miss Evans. At its maiden board meeting held in Ibadan in February 1967, the board chose to follow the direction set out by the founding Evans brothers to focus on children’s educational publishing and the enhancement of teacher education.
The management of Joop Berkhout displayed unparalleled energy, skill and push that immediately won the company admiration and acceptance in Nigeria. These early years witnessed unprecedented growth in the publishing industry owing to the arrival of Evans Nigeria with fresh vigour and vision. Competition became keener and product quality standards, higher. Being the catalyst of this positive change in the industry, Evans no doubt became the primary beneficiary of the growth and by 1971, the company had built and commissioned a new office and warehouse complex, which remains the headquarters of the company.
The phenomenal growth in the fortunes of the company required an expansion in the number of members of the board and the late Dr. Alvan Ikoku and Dr. Amiel Fagbulu became directors in 1971 and 1972 respectively.
The Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree of 1972, also known as the indigenization decree brought about a major restructuring in the company. By this decree it became mandatory for a minimum of 40% of the equity of companies to be owned by Nigerians. Thus, Nigerians including the late Mr. Ola Odusote, Alhaji Zulu Gambari, Dr Rex Akpofure, Dr Magnus Adiele, Alhaji Shehu Malami, Dr. A. Fagbulu and Dr. S. J Cookey who by 1975 became the Chairman of the company bought 40% of the company’s shares.
The years between 1977 and 1980 saw Evans taking on full-fledged local publishing with the establishment of a Publishing Department which operated more independently of the London company and Mr Dayo Ogunniyi (now a former Honourable Member, House of Representatives) was appointed the first Publishing Manager.
Early in 1977, Mr. Layi Bolodeoku, who had earlier joined the company in 1973 as General Manager, was appointed Managing Director after he had served briefly as joint Managing Director with the incumbent, Joop Berkhout following his appointment as Marketing Director of Evans U.K. Mr. Bolodeoku served the company meritoriously for many years. To his credit, much of the company’s indigenous list was developed during his tenure. Particularly notable was the pioneering publication of a wholly indigenously written and produced nursery education series of 19 titles simultaneously.
The late 1980s up to the late 1990s were a testing time for business and economic activities in Nigeria. The twin economic policy of austerity of the Shagari era and the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of the subsequent military era had a telling effect on the Nigerian publishing industry. Battling under such harsh economic conditions, the industry had to evolve its strategies of survival in such inhospitable environment. Not surprisingly, Evans was particularly badly hit by severe operational challenges and the company all but baulked in this situation. The operations were severely restricted and it became increasingly difficult to meet certain financial obligations. This situation continued into the late 1990s and was compounded by the instability of much of that decade.
EVANS PUBLISHING GROUP
Evans Publishers Nigeria Ltd is in association with the Evans Publishing Group UK. This is the holding entity for Evans Brothers Publishers and its associated companies worldwide. The chairman is a well-known and accomplished Nigerian aristocrat, the Oloye Adekunle Ojora, CON, OFR, JP, Otunba of the Yoruba kingdom of Lagos. Sometime in the late 70s, the Evans family had sold Evans UK to the respected Lord Lever of Manchester. A few years later, he was to divest to an investment which Otunba Ojora represents. Otunba Ojora also chairs the board of the company in Nigeria.
The entrance of Otunba Adekunle Ojora into the board in 1983(first as member, then vice chairman and now chairman, injected a new life and fresher thinking into the company. An accomplished entrepreneur, the Oloye brought his wealth of experience to bear on the affairs of the company especially during the difficult years of the post Shagari era of economic difficulties and the subsequent Structural Adjustment policies of succeeding regimes.
Upon the retirement of Mr. Layi Bolodeoku, Mr. ‘Gbenro Adegbola was appointed the Managing Director from 2000 to 2012. He gave in his best in the efforts to put the company on the part of recovery, a mission that was achieved within a couple of years. New initiatives aimed at expanding the business of the company were introduced and before the fall of the decade, the company had bounced back tremendously. His exit in 2012 ushered in the late Mr. Wale Olaniawo, who managed the company between 2012 and 2015. As an astute administrator, he did his best to sustain the leadership of the company in the Publishing Industry.
Mr. Lukman Dauda took over, first in acting capacity in September, 2015 and was made the substantive Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer in February, 2016.
The structure of the company as at date shows the following.
- Otunba (Dr) Adekunle Ojora, CON, OFR, JP (Chairman)
- Mr. Lukman Dauda (Managing Director)
- Dame Erelu Ojuolape Ojora, MON
- Mr. Adeyinka Ojora
- Dr (Mrs) Iyabo Fagbulu
- Chief Akinwade Delano (SAN)
- Lukman Dauda – Managing Director/Chief Executive
- Mazi Akuwudike – Publishing Consultant
- Olutosin Ademikanra – Administrative Manager/Company Secretary
- Samuel Kikiowo – Marketing Manager
- ‘Gbenga Akinbowale – Financial Controller
- Ayo Shadare – Marketing Manager
- Biodun Dairo – Internal Auditor
- Yinka Ajagbe – Area Manager (West)
- S.U. Ike – Area Manager (Jos)
- Opara Obioma – Area Manager (East)
- Thomas Adeniyi – Area Manager (Lagos)
- A.M. Marshal – Area Manager (Kaduna)
- Fola Kolade Oladipupo – Area Manager (Abuja)
- Paul Esegbue – Area Manager (Benin)
- Emmanuel Abu – Area Manager (Makurdi)
ACQUISITION OF NELSON PUBLISHERS
Having recovered spectacularly, Evans continued to expand to consolidate its position within the industry. In 2005, it concluded negotiations to acquire the ailing Nelson Publishers. This was only a logical move after the earlier takeover of Nelson UK’s Africa list by Evans UK a few years earlier. Nelson occupies a significant place in Nigerian publishing and cultural history, being the ground-breaking publisher of the famous D. O. Fagunwa Yoruba magical realism novels, the first of which was released in 1948. It is hoped this strategic acquisition will win for Evans Publishing Group a bigger share of the Nigerian publishing market. Reorganization of Nelson commenced upon acquisition and was completed by the end of the first quarter 2007.
PUBLISHING IN OTHER MEDIA
With growth in Information Technology and its increasing application in education all over the world, Evans has taken an interest in publishing in other media. In 2005, a small study was commissioned to research the readiness of the Nigerian market for electronically based instructional materials and the possibility of giving existing titles the electronic treatment. This led to the creation of a small unit within the company early in 2006 to implement some of the recommendations of the study. The unit decided first to develop the equivalent of the schools records package that currently exists as a pack of school diaries, report cards and continuous assessment records. Initially the thinking was to merely adapt the existing material electronically, but the advice of the unit managers was to develop new material from the scratch. It was later decided to combine this with accounting software in an integrated package called The Integrated School Manager— a dedicated, robust computer software developed for running schools. It contains modules on accounting, human resource management, student records, scheduling etc. Testing of the final release version commenced in August 2006. As at date, it has revolutionized the way schools are run in Nigeria as most private schools have keyed into it.
EVANS E-BOOK READER
Evans Publishers launched an e-Book application where titles can be accessed anywhere on any android run device. The package is an extraordinary, self contained, stand alone set of tools for all levels of education. We provided contents for the “Opon Imo” Project for Osun State Government in 2012/2013. The contents covered eBooks for seventeen (17) subjects on tablet for SS1 to SS3 students in the State. We however have the capacity to provide e-contents at competitive price at other levels of education. i.e. Primary and JSS.
Core Business of Evans is Educational publishing particularly School textbooks from Pre-Primary School to University education. Our range of titles cover virtually every subject taught in the school system.
Our staff strength is above 250 while our branches are located in major state capitals of Nigeria. We have Resident Reps in every Nigerian State capital. Our head office is located in Ibadan, Oyo State.
OUR CORE VALUES
Our core values represent our culture, work ethics and our unique identity, which our employees are expected to follow and to tailor their work attitude towards. The Core Values for Evans Brothers (Nigeria Publishers) Ltd, is based on the word QUEST, an acronym for Quality, Unity, Empathy, Serenity and Tenacity.
As a publishing house in a competitive business environment, we ensure quality in all our operations to remain ahead of our competitors. We bring quality assurance to focus as we assess new manuscripts. Quality is our watch word as we edit materials, in production, in marketing, in promotion, in distribution and in human and financial resources management.
We work together as a team. This is essential for the survival of our company and in sustaining the confidence of our customers.
We are Evans Brothers (and Sisters)! We consider the needs of our customers and make it our business to satisfy those needs. We strive to give them a sense of worth and belonging. We see our customers as partners in progress and collaborators in ensuring the delivery of quality service to our beloved country.
In order to perform optimally, our work environment is conducive. There is serenity and comfort in the work environment which guarantees optimum productivity. A serene environment leads to motivation for staff members to do more by going the extra mile.
The determination to succeed against all odds is a key factor in our organization. It is often said “where there is a will, there will be a way.” A never “say die” attitude and confidence in our ability coupled with a positive outlook about life stands us out.
Our company is proactive and we see our services as essential towards the survival of the Nigerian Education Industry, hence our slogan “Evans, Years ahead in Publishing”.
BUSINESSES EXECUTED IN NIGERIA
We have been supporting educational policies of government at Local, State and National levels. We have also been partnering private organization and Voluntary Agencies in the areas of innovation in educational service delivery.
With branches spread over several state capitals, we provide ready services to our customers in Nigeria.
From the days of Dr. Larcombe who authored the very successful Larcombe Mathematics series till now, our products have withstood the test of time. We have done business in practically every state of Nigeria.
In 1989 to 1990, we participated in the “Federal Government Secondary School Book Intervention Project”. We distributed books to the 19 states of the Federation with other publishers.
In 1990-91, in conjunction with the “Project Implementation Unit” (PIU) of the Federal Ministry of Education, we pioneered the use of “Continuous Assessment Records” in primary schools in the entire Federation. Evans solely produced and distributed 14 titles to the then 21 states of the federation. It was a massive project which we executed successfully.
Between 1995 and 1997, we participated in the World Bank Book Intervention Project in Nigeria. We were one of the few publishers that produced and distributed primary school books to every state of the Federation.
That project was the beginning of revival of book trade in Nigeria as publishing houses have been experiencing recession in years prior to that time.
In 1999 to early 2000s, with the advent of the 3rd Republic and the promulgation of the Universal Primary Education Act, we have been participating in book supplies and training need of States Primary Education Boards.
From mid 2000 to date, we have successfully executed contracts for books procurement and supply to the various states of the federation in partnership with Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
We pride ourselves that in all these engagements, we have acquitted ourselves creditably well and these have stood us out for future patronage. It is our earnest hope that our records will stimulate more Government and other agencies patronage in the future.