About Us

We started with one single goal: Empower shellac products

Albert Frederick Suter (1882-1966) was born near Zurich and came to Britain in 1899 where he worked for a firm dealing in Shellac. In 1906, at the age of 24, he started his own business, A.F. Suter & Co. Ltd. By the end of the First World War, the company had opened a large warehouse at Upper Clapton where machinery was introduced for reconditioning material which had suffered in transit.

The Growth

In 1925, the Shellac bleaching and merchanting business of the Swanlac Company at 21 Mincing Lane was acquired, followed by the Victory Works, a former sweet factory, at 83-84 Eastway in Hackney Wick in 1926. The factory commenced operation in 1927 and was substantially adapted for manufacturing and warehousing after a disastrous fire in 1935. At this time, the company served industrial customers 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 Swanlac, which was registered as a UK trademark in 1937 and an EU trademark in 2016, forming the basis for our Swan logo.

The Succession

Albert’s three sons entered the business in the 1930s and were joined by his grandson Simon Suter in the 1970s. After that, the company was managed by another of Albert’s grandsons, Chris Nicholson. In 1996, A.F. Suter & Co. Ltd merged with Hicks Brothers (Produce) Ltd, a commodities broker that was formed in the 1960s 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 rationalized 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.

Partnership and Certification

In 2000, a joint partnership was formed between A.F. Suter & Co. Ltd and Hindustan Shellac Industry. This led to the creation of Hind Suter Shellac Pvt. Ltd in 2003, which has achieved ISO 9001:2015 certification, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification, ISO14001:2015, ISO 45001:2018, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) System certification, and FSSC 22000:2018 compliance. Hind Suter’s modern facility produces highly refined Shellac for the food, confectionery, and pharmaceutical industries, with certain products certified as Kosher and Halal. In December 2017, we launched a food-grade Aqueous Shellac Solution (SWANLAC ASL 10) and are currently developing a range of other innovative Shellac products.

Commitment and Recognition

A.F. Suter is a founding member of The European Shellac Association (TESA) and adheres to a strict Ethical Policy, including a commitment to the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative) Base Code. In 2018, A.F. Suter became a member of Sedex (ZC1072600), demonstrating our commitment to high standards of labour rights, equality, health & safety, sustainability, environmental protection, and business ethics. Hind Suter also joined Sedex in September 2019 (ZC407813198). In July 2019, Bureau Veritas awarded our UK wholesale distribution operations the internationally recognized ISO 9001:2015 accreditation.

Today and Beyond

Today, A.F. Suter supplies high-quality Shellac products to customers worldwide, 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 while welcoming the opportunity to serve new customers and work with new suppliers.

Begin your Shellac journey with A.F. Suter

Shellac is a versatile natural material with a number of applications. Shellac also includes a wide range of products so it is very important to identify the correct grade for your application. Our expert team have the knowledge and experience to identify the right solution for your needs. If you have any questions, or would like more information about our products and services, get in touch today.