The Hayleys Story: How a British Businessman Started One Of Sri Lanka’s Biggest Companies

The Hayleys Story: How a British Businessman Started One Of Sri Lanka's Biggest Companies

In 1869, businessperson Thomas Hayley made a voyage on the Percy Douglas joined by his child Charles Pickering Hayley. The Percy Douglas, named after Major General Sir Robert Percy Douglas, had a place with Thomas Hayley, which he obtained from a defaulting ship developer whom he loaned cash to. The 781 ton scissors worked out of Liverpool and was recorded by Lloyds as bound for the China tea exchange.

The narrative of Thomas Hayley and his association with Sri Lanka finishes here. That of his child, in any case, was simply starting. Thomas had property in Jersey in the Channel Islands, and Charles Hayley was conceived there in Beaumont on St. Aubin’s Bay on August 12, 1848. The ocean voyage was a piece of Charles’ transitioning festivities and his sisters Julia and Adelaide went with them. One of the stops on the adventure was the port of Galle in Sri Lanka. Family ancestry has it that Charles loved what he saw so much that he resolved to return one day.


When he finished his apprenticeship in Liverpool in 1871, he boarded the Percy Douglas again to come back to Galle, which he came to towards the year’s end. The ship, sadly, could never cruise again as it was destroyed off the bank of Rangoon.

Early Days In Galle

In 1874 Pickering joined a firm of transportation operators named Thomson Mitchell and Co.. After the organization shut three years after the fact because of awful speculations, he leased a shop on Pedlar’s Street in Galle Fort and propelled his own business adventure, under the name Chas. P. Hayley and Co (C.P.H and Co) on January tenth 1878, sending out nearby items like cinnamon and citronella oil and bringing in products, for example, claret from Britain. Coir yarn, notwithstanding, was what he centered around in the long run, leasing more property on Pedlar’s Street where he before long had a flourishing business going.

Charles Pickering Hayley frames Chas P. Hayley and Co. in Galle. Picture credit: Hayleys Charles wedded Gertrude, the girl of George Lee in 1874. She was a director of the Government Press and quickly altered a paper called the Ceylon Chronicle during the 1830s while filling in as the Postmaster General. The couple had six youngsters.

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Charles for all intents and purposes ran the developing firm without any help for a long time, until his child Alec went along with him in 1893. His other child, Steuart went along with them 8 years after the fact.

Various Business Interests

The new organization didn’t stick to sends out alone, be that as it may. Hayley immediately fan out into ranches, offering administrations and financing to different estates in the south, in territories, for example, Baddegama, the Udugama Valley, and Akuressa.

Espresso was a major thing on the island around then. In 1857, at stature of the espresso blast in Ceylon, 36 million kilos were being sent out from the island. Be that as it may, post 1869 a parasite alluded to as ‘wrecking Emily’ devastated espresso ranches over the island. It was a debacle for estate proprietors, and most of them left business. Towards the finish of the 1880s, very nearly a fourth of a million sections of land of espresso were completely wrecked. The settlement was in the end spared by presenting tea as an option. What’s more, since there was a manor framework as of now set up, those that stayed did the change to developing tea. Pickering endure the accident, and helped numerous others do the change to tea.

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Charles’ interests were various, and he investigated a wide range of roads of business. He likewise tried different things with searching for gold and with a timber factory that made tea chests, yet the two endeavors didn’t work out.

The organization likewise started an association with Whittall and Corp and Boustead Bros. propelling the Southern Province Transport Co. in Matara serving tea and elastic manor organizations. The organization likewise had an ice assembling plant in Hikkaduwa, which was then changed over to a cleanser assembling plant which didn’t make due past the 1930s.

A portion of Charles’ endeavors were much more effective than others. In January 1909, Charles established another organization with another accomplice W. W. Kenny. In spite of a moderate begin, the organization engaged with coir trades. It was a chance of a lifetime. The coir business was blasting and was the foundation of the business for over 40 years.


Hayley and Kenny turned into a Private Limited Company in 1935 and Chas P. Hayley and Co. turns into a private constrained risk organization and completely claimed backup of Hayley and Kenny Ltd. in 1944.

Changes In Leadership

Charles P. Hayley kicked the bucket in November 1934 at the respected age of eighty-seven. The enduring accomplices in C.P.H. and Co. were his children, Alec and Steuart and his child in-law Jack Steiger. C.P.H. and Co. was likewise in organization with W.W.Kenny in Hayley and Kenny, Colombo. The Articles of H&K Ltd. gave total forces to the Life Directors (at first Alec and Steuart Hayley and Jack Steiger), the Ordinary Directors having almost no power. The built up Assistants were not expected to be accomplices or get proprietorship stakes. At the point when Alec Hayley kicked the bucket in December 1936, he left his whole holding to his widow thus jacked Steiger nine years after the fact.

Post WWII, Steuart Hayley was the sole enduring Life Director, and the organization was still particularly a family claimed business that was all around firmly held. In 1951 George G. Hayley, grandson of the originator (Chas. P. Hayley) and worker of the organization, was disappointed with his absence of progression in the organization. At the time, the clearance of the organization was on SteuartHayleys’ brain also, then again, actually he was determined it not be publicized or examined openly. George Hayley formulated a plan to purchase out Hayley and Kenny and dispatch Hayleys Ltd with the official representatives of the organization.

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“It was all so straightforward. We would shape another organization with whatever little capital we could together raise, taking offers in extent to our H&K Ltd (Hayley and Kenny) commission qualification. We would offer the investors Rs. 4.5 million for the whole endeavor in Colombo and Galle, this aggregate half in real money and half in paper, verified somehow or another on the new Company’s advantages. The money we would discover generally by exchanging Hayley and Kenny Ltd and along these lines under the Income Tax law of that time, sparing one year’s finished expenses, the decision would be our own out of the organization’s last three monetary years. We would do this right off the bat in the following money related year, 1952/53, and the old investors would get no profits in regard of 1951/52, the benefits of which would give the equalization of the money we required and obviously, the entire of the Rs 4.5 million would be tax-exempt in their grasp as in those days there was no Capital Gains Tax. It was by the estimations of those occasions a great bundle for them and I had little uncertainty that they would all eventually acknowledge, however unmistakably long and dubious arrangements lay ahead.”


Endings And New Beginnings

While George Hayley was instrumental in embellishment the organization into what it is currently, his inclusion in it was to be cut off sooner than he foreseen.

George and Pat Hayley were second era British Ceylonese, however the British Nationality Act of 1948 constrained individuals over the Commonwealth to pick between a British citizenship or the place that is known for their introduction to the world. Since they were British, they picked the previous, and they and their youngsters had no programmed ideal to a work license in Ceylon. With crushing sadness, the family needed to leave the island in 1961. George reliably talked about the formation of Hayleys Ltd as one of his proudest accomplishments and the day they left Ceylon as the saddest day of his life.

Haychem Ltd., a cooperation with Bayer of Germany, is made to define agrochemicals.


Regardless of the takeoff of George Hayleys, Hayleys Ltd. changed, and developed in the decades following, stretching out into agribusiness, elastic, agrochemicals, initiated carbon, economical vitality, and significantly more. The organization Charles Hayleys began a road in Galle Fort currently creates 3.29% of all Sri Lanka’s fares, comes to over 7.6 mn clients worldwide and the principal recorded organization in Sri Lanka to cross USD 1 bn income in the monetary year 2017/18. This year, Hayleys Ltd. commends its 140th year commemoration. Charles Hayleys could never have thought about how his little organization on a road in Galle Fort could have developed; however no uncertainty he would have been satisfied.

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