In 1920 Charles George Tripp opened the Auckland Branch of John Dickinson & Co (N.Z.) Ltd after having previously worked for Dickinsons in Apsley, Hertfordshire UK prior to immigrating to New Zealand.
In 1929 he joined the Auckland branch of a Wellington based paper merchant – AA Howes Ltd.The Auckland branch was on the first floor of the Forresters Building at 139 Albert Street. It was on the corner of Albert and Wellesley Street in central Auckland.
In 1931 Charles Tripp purchased AA Howes Ltd and changed the name of the company to British and Foreign Papers Ltd which reflected the source of the paper imports. He also decided that since he was most familiar with the Auckland printing industry he should concentrate on this market.
He shifted all the paper stocks in Wellington and Christchurch to Auckland. By 1936 the company had out grown the premises at 139 Albert Street so they moved to the second floor of the record building at 125 Albert Street. However, this move was short lived as further storage was needed so in 1938 British and Foreign Papers was on the move again and moved back to the Forresters Building but this time to the second floor.
Operating a paper merchant from the second floor involved a tremendous amount of double handling.. Most of the paper came from overseas in bales and had to be taken by hand trolley from the delivery truck up a lift to the second floor.
During this time there were periods of paper rationing particularly during World War II paper was hard to source.
In 1946 Kenneth Durrant Tripp returned to New Zealand at the end of the war after serving as an officer in the Royal Navy and joined his father at British and Foreign Papers Ltd. The company now had 5 staff members consisting of two office ladies, a sales representative and two storemen. The business grew and it became obvious that operating from the second floor in cramped conditions was not a long term option.
In 1965 the company purchased a colonial villa at 41 Boston Road in Mount Eden. This was demolished and in 1967 the company moved into its own purpose built premises.
At this stage the company had grown to eleven employees and all the Albert Street staff were very happy to relocate.
In 1968 Ken Tripp went on an extended overseas trip visiting paper mills and paper merchants in the USA, UK and Europe. He noted that there was a trend particularly in the USA for paper merchants to move away from city centre’s to where the land was cheaper and plentiful but was close enough to a main arterial route for easy distribution. With this in mind and with an eye for the future in 1970 the company purchased 4 acres of land at Takanini near the motorway on and off ramps.
Although this option was not taken up by the company until some 30 years later it showed a great vision for the future on the part of Ken Tripp.
In 1971 the opportunity arose to buy the house next door at 43 Boston Road and this was leased to the Hobson Paper Ruling and Binding who produced the company's ruled stock range which included binding margin billheads and statements.
The company continued to grow and there were now eighteen employees but the business still required more space despite a mezzanine floor being added to the main warehouse. It was decided to then demolish the house at number 43 Boston Road and extend the warehouse further and shift the offices upstairs to give further warehouse space. Construction commenced in late 1977.
During this time Barry Kenneth Tripp returned from the UK and in 1974 joined the company to make three generations of the Tripp family to be employed.
In 1978 a group of Bay of Plenty printers approached the company with the idea of opening a branch in Tauranga. The company's first branch outside of Auckland opened in rented premises with a staff of one initially on a part time basis. As the branch expanded the branch required more space and an additional staff member. This was achieved by purchasing premises in Burrow St, Judea. However this soon proved to be too small and in 1996 the branch moved to Koromiko St into a purpose built company owned premises.
The Auckland branch continued to grow and exports to the Pacific Islands notably Fiji, were increasing rapidly. Warehouse space was at a premium and a lot of stock was in outside storage at third party locations. In 1983 the opportunity arose to purchase the Viko Building at number 45 Boston Road and all the stock was now able to be stored in one location. This saved a lot of double handling and efficiency improved as the Auckland branch continued to progress.
Auckland continued to grow and in an effort to ease some of the pressure and in response to an increasing business with printers in the Waikato area, it was decided to open a branch in Hamilton. In 1980 the Hamilton branch was opened with a branch manager and three supporting staff.
Auckland continued to progress with the advent of containers which were difficult to handle in our inner city location. It became apparent that there was no longer any room to expand in Boston Road. It was time for the company to relocate. In July 1986 the Auckland branch moved to a purpose built building in George Bourke Drive in Mt Wellington. All of the stock was again under one roof and container handling became a very efficient operation with twenty-two staff members at the new location.
With the successful move completed Ken Tripp decided to take a well earned break after 41 years in the paper industry and retired mid 1987. Barry Tripp assumed the role of Managing Director.
During the later part of 1987 - AM. Satterthwaite & Co. Ltd a Christchurch based importer and distributor decided to consolidate its paper operations to the main centres and British and Foreign Papers purchased their Palmerston North branch in December. The company then appointed Barbara Bakalich as branch manager with three staff to assist her. This is believed to be the first time in New Zealand that a woman held a branch managers position in the paper merchanting industry.
The company continued to grow but sadly in August 1989 Ken Tripp passed away after a very brief retirement. He was a much loved and respected boss to all his staff.
In 1989 after 59 years trading as British & Foreign Papers Ltd it was decided to change the name to reflect the current situation. A large proportion of paper was now purchased from New Zealand Forest Products Ltd and the company was the only 100% New Zealand owned paper stockist. The name British & Foreign Papers did not reflect this and it was time to change to an appropriate name. To many the company was already known as "B&F" so the name was changed to B&F Papers and a promotional programme was instigated to promote the 100% New Zealand ownership.
The company continued to grow and the warehouse space in the branches was now limited so a new building was required. A site was purchased in Frankton and the Hamilton branch moved into a new purpose built building in 1992.
The Palmerston North branch needed more space too so a new building was purchased for them and they moved in September that same year.
The 1990's saw a change in the product mix as B&F started purchasing Conqueror. The only paper grade to be included in the world's top 100 brands. This was the start of a relationship with Arjowiggins, the manufacturer of Conqueror and a world leader in the manufacturing of specialty papers. Their specialty range has become a significant part of B&F's sales.
In 1993 Willy and Raos (NZ) Ltd a recent arrival on the New Zealand paper merchant scene went into liquidation and ceased trading. B&F purchased the assets of their Christchurch branch in September that year. This was a significant move for the company as it meant B&F had national distribution for the first time.
During 1998 it was decided to develop the land at Takanini which was purchased almost 30 years ago. The Auckland branch and head office moved into the new purpose built premise in July 2001. It was a move that proved to be a great success and was appreciated by the staff and customers.