Astley Dye & Chemical Co. Ltd founded in 1919 by Harry Pilling – initially set up to import & export “dyes & chemicals”, quickly became a manufacturer of a self-cleaning washing product named ACDO after the company using the initial letters of the company name (originally called ADCO).
Harry moves the company into its own custom-built and owned premises in Mallison Street, Bolton, which remain as the company’s head office to this day, albeit now very changed and extended.
Marshall Pilling joins ACDO as a machine operator. In the coming years Marshall created and launched Glo white leading him to be appointed as Managing Director in 1956.
Harry Pilling, founder of ACDO sadly passes away, leaving his son Marshall at the helm as Chairman
In 1992 Harry Pilling’s grandson, Brandon Pilling, was appointed Managing Director on 29th March.
1995 marked the start of Astley Dye's international ventures with Director Brandon Pilling exploring a variety of investments in South Africa beginning with Mates Beauty, a personal care distribution company based in Johannesburg.
It was decided to resolve the dichotomy between ACDO the manufacturer of products, ACDO the trading and distribution specialist, and Acdo the brand and to create a new name for the company’s latter interests. To maintain the heritage of the business, for simplicity and for memorability, the name that was chosen was ACDOCO.
The year 2000 was marked, sadly, by the death of its then Chairman Marshall Pilling; this now left the company in the sole control of its new Chairman and Managing Director Brandon Pilling.
Whilst 2007 saw existing trading partners delta pronatura become shareholders in the ACDOCO business venture, the original Family Business was maintained (under Pilling Family ownership) and reverted to its original name - the Astley Dye & Chemical Co Ltd. Alongside it, 2 new companies were formed – one focused on sales and distribution in the UK of Household & Laundry Care alongside Health & Beauty brands (ACDOCO) and one focused on manufacturing of Household & Laundry Care products for UK & International Distribution (ACDOPRO).
After exploring various projects in South Africa over the previous decade, ACDOCO SA was also formed as a commercial entity in South Africa, owned and controlled by Astley Dye & Chemical Co Ltd. ACDOCO SA now import, distribute and represent many international brands via exclusive contracts within South African retail and beyond into neighbouring Sub-Saharan countries.
And so it was that in 2019, with Astley Dye & Chemical Co Ltd celebrating it’s 100th year of independent family ownership, that Harry’s grandson son Brandon embarked on the next phase in this Company's long history. Along with the Family, Brandon decided to divest of the principle UK operations (ACDOCO & ACDOPRO) that had been built up under his watch for over 33 years. Whilst retaining the Property that has housed this Company since the late 1920’s along with the ACDO brand( the brand that signifies where it all started back in a simple terraced house in Bolton), focus shifted towards South Africa, via its subsidiary ACDOCO SA, a company that continues to build a strong business in Health & Beauty brands alongside Laundry & Household Care brands into the Sub-Saharan African regions. The company has also invested in a South African property portfolio via its subsidiary Astley Properties.
The Astley Dye & Chemical Company to this day remains fiercely proud of its history and its heritage; still proudly 100% Family Owned and Controlled and operating in a Multinational World, whilst it remains very much a part of the community it has always chosen to serve and help in Bolton, and now also in Johannesburg. As for ACDO, it has managed to quietly achieve its 100th year as a brand and written itself into a history where few other brands will ever step foot.
The Astley Dye & Chemical Company today appears to be a very different place to that started by Harry in 1919… but is it really? The desire to develop in new and innovative categories , whilst looking forward without fear has remains at the heart of this Company, and whilst on the surface so many things have changed, indeed become unrecognisable, the heart of this 100+ year old Company continues to beat as strongly as it always did. The journey begins again!
Brandon joined Astley Dye & Chemical Co Ltd in 1985. He was appointed as Marketing Director in 1989 and Managing Director in 1992 to become the 3rd Generation to run the Family Controlled Company. He took on the Chairman’s roll in addition in 2000 following the passing of his Father Marshall and spent the following years buying back lost shares from an extended family and friends’ network to return the business into full Family Ownership and control. Brandon continues to have a full & active hands-on role in all the business’ associated with Astley Dye & Chemical Co. Ltd.
Elizabeth joined Astley Dye & Chemical Co Ltd (trading as ACDOCO) in 2001. As Regulatory Director, she plays an active hands-on role in Astley Dye & Chemical Co. and across the wider business portfolio.
Jeremy joined Astley Dye & Chemical Co Ltd in 2014. As a retail expert with a wealth of knowledge and experience. He is based in South Africa but with business commitments in the UK he is a frequent visitor to the UK shores. Jeremy plays an active hands-on role in Astley Dye & Chemical Co Ltd and is also a full Board Director of ACDOCO SA where he provides critical insight and support to the local team.
Jason joined ACDOCO SA in 2014. As an experienced MD (or Chief Shopper Officer) he has led several retail successes over his career (being part of the team that grew a South African FMCG Group from 4 to 4,500 people and to over R 1 billion revenue in under 7 years). As Managing Director, Jason holds the fullest of hands-on roles for this key subsidiary.
Maurice has worked with Astley Properties since its formation in 2007. He is a qualified Accountant and worked for ACDOCO SA and prior to that Mates Beauty since the late 1990’s. He now manages the Property Portfolio in South Africa on a day to day basis.