Albert Frederick Suter (1882-1966) developed his expertise in manufacturing Shellac in Switzerland before moving to England and forming A.F. Suter & Co. Ltd in 1906 at the age of 24. He established his own factory in Hackney Wick in the East End of London in 1927. At this time, the company served industrial customers who were mainly involved in the manufacture of varnishes, paints and newspaper printing inks. The Bleached Shellac manufactured by the factory was sold around the world under the established brand name of ‘Swanlac’, which remains our registered trademark to this day and forms the basis for our Swan logo.
During the 1950’s, the company was run by Albert’s five children. After that, the business was managed by Albert’s grandson, Chris Nicholson.
In 1996, A.F. Suter & Co. Ltd merged with Hicks Brothers (Produce) Ltd, a commodities broker that was formed in the 1960’s and was A.F. Suter’s largest supplier of Seedlac. A.F. Suter was also Hicks Brothers’ largest customer, so the two companies proved to be an excellent strategic fit.
In 1997, Stephen Hall became Managing Director. The company was rationalised in the face of competitive pressures and absorbed the business of its UK competitors after they exited the industry. Following an offer for the site of the London factory, a decision was taken to move all Shellac production to India and the Suter family shareholders sold their stake in the company on completion of the property sale in 2000.
In 2000, a joint partnership was formed between A.F. Suter & Co. Ltd and Hindustan Shellac Industry, after which the Shellac manufacturing activities of A.F. Suter were transferred from London to Kolkata, India, the primary source of the Seedlac raw material. This led to the creation of Hind Suter Shellac Pvt. Ltd in 2003, which has achieved ISO 9001:2008 and HACCP certification in recognition of its high quality assurance standards and health & safety measures. Hind Suter’s new, modern facility is currently developing highly refined Shellac for the Food, Confectionary and Pharmaceutical industries, with certain products certified as Kosher or Halal. Across all our operations, we adhere to our strict Ethical Policy and maintain high environmental standards.
Today, A.F. Suter & Co. Ltd supplies high quality Shellac to customers world-wide, along with a growing selection of complementary Waxes, Natural Gums, Resins, Menthol Crystals and Zein. It has evolved from a company serving 20th century industrial customers to one fulfilling the requirements of 21st century high specification applications. Our team continuously strives to meet existing customers’ needs, whilst welcoming the opportunity to serve new customers and work with new suppliers.
A.F. Suter & Co. Ltd is a founding member of The European Shellac Association (TESA), which promotes the interests of the Shellac industry in Europe and the wider Shellac community internationally.