In April 1849, Richard Wills emigrated to South Australia aboard Spartan, followed by his brother George Wills, in December 1849 aboard Minerva with a shipment of textiles to set up shop in Adelaide. By October 1853, they had formed a partnership, G. & R. Wills with premises at 40 and 41 Rundle Street, Adelaide. George returned once to England to be married, and the second time, in 1859, permanently to take control of the company’s purchasing house. Richard passed in 1862 and was buried in West Terrace cemetery.
Hermann Oelmann (1840–1889), was commercial traveller for the company 1863–1876 then after the death of C. G. Balk, he was made a partner 1876–1882. Around 1882, W. Herbert Phillipps was given the task of establishing the subsidiary shipping firm of George Wills & Co. before he later retired in 1902. By 1922 the company also had establishments in Melbourne, Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill as well as agencies in Sydney and Brisbane. The Adelaide headquarters occupied the block bounded by Rundle Street, Gawler Place, North Terrace and Fisher place, and a factory in Pulteney Street. The Perth warehouse ran between St. Georges Terrace and Hay Street, while the Melbourne premises were in Flinders Lane. The company went public in 1946.