Chapter 1

Beginning of the enterprise

The company which eventually became Evode Holdings p.l.c. began operations a number of years before Dr. Hermann Simon appeared on the scene.

Like most of the industries based in Stafford this company, known as Spic and Span Shoe Polishes Ltd. owed its origins to the footwear industry which was well established in the town and which offered a natural outlet for shoe polishes. The company was registered on 3rd. June 1932 and was formed through the association with Lotus Ltd., a major manufacturer of footwear owned by the Bostock brothers and Mr. Adolph Axelrath who was the Managing Director of Yankee Shoe Polish G.m.b.H. based in Hamburg, Germany.

The idea of having a shoe polish manufacturer located in the town where their shoes were made and sold in their own shops, namely Lotus and Delta, and possibly other retail outlets appealed, to the brothers.

It was decided that the premises in Glover Street, Stafford, which had earlier housed some of the Lotus operations, should be rented to the new company for the manufacture of the shoe polishes as it was no longer used to manufacture shoes. Similarly some of the redundant manufacturing equipment no longer needed in the factory in Hamburg would be transferred to Stafford to allow the new company to begin operations.

The Board of Directors, consisting of members of the Bostock family, Mr. Axelrath, Mr. H. Jolles and Mr. G.G.Niclas, first met on 24th. June 1932, the company having a nominal share capital of £1,000 comprising 1000 fully paid up £1.00 shares. Mr. Frederick M. Bostock was appointed Chairman of the company.

At a Directors meeting held on 20th. July 1932 it was resolved that an application be made for the registration of the word “Dove” to be used in the trade mark applying to the company products.

When manufacturing began, although the quality of the polishes produced was said to be excellent, sales were disappointing put down to the lack of promotion and losses mounted. A further injection of working capital was required and this took place in January and November of 1933. There was also a recorded loss in the balance sheet for 1934.

Consequently, at an Extraordinary General Meeting on 18th. September 1935, the capital of the company was increased to £3,000. The Bostock family were expressing concern over the viability of the company and suggested to Mr. Axelrath that liquidation of the company should be considered. Very little money was being spent on promoting “Dove polishes” although at least one cinema in the town regularly screened a slide, believed to be used up to 1939, advertising the product. The accounts for this financial year also showed a loss.

The financial difficulties continued in 1936 and the Bostock family advised Mr. Axelrath that, unless more capital was forthcoming, the business could not continue. This posed a problem for him because, at this time with the political situation which existed in his country, he was not allowed to send money out of Germany. Also, because of censorship of outgoing and incoming mail, severe restrictions were placed on any discussions in writing of the situation at Spic & Span. However a code was devised to be used in correspondence passed between the interested parties and money was transferred to alleviate the situation.

In March of 1937 the share capital of the company was increased from £3,000 to £5,000 and a further interest free loan from Lotus Ltd. Was forthcoming, but the company was still operating at a loss. Something had to be done to turn the company around and to the relief of all concerned Mr. Axelrath announced that he had found someone who was willing to invest in the company and also bring with him the necessary chemical expertise to put the enterprise on the road to success. That someone turned out to be Dr. Hermann Simon.