Alfred Baur was born in 1865 in the village of Andelfingen (Zurich). Having completed his studies at a Winterthur commercial school, he joined a local trading company which sent him to their branch in Colombo (Sri Lanka) in 1884. In 1897, Baur founded his own business there, setting up a company to manufacture organic fertilisers.
The first office was at Baillie Street, the stores at Cramer’s Lane between Pettah and Hulftsdorf. In 1901 premises were shifted to a spacious property in Kelaniya. The new works were developed with the first railway siding in Ceylon and a laboratory.
Baurs are the pioneers of scientific manuring in Sri Lanka, particularly for coconuts. Since its inception the firm has maintained a first-class agricultural advisory service. Baurs’ fertiliser mixtures were experimentally tested in the firm’s own plantations. Whilst the trade in fertilisers was always the company’s mainstay, other activities were added over time. Baurs became the owner of several up-country tea estates. The famous Palugaswewa coconut property in the Chilaw District, was a world-renowned show-piece of efficient management with high productivity and diversification.
In 1906, Baur returned to live in Switzerland, choosing to settle in Geneva, the hometown of his wife, Eugénie Baur-Durets. Baur’s return to Switzerland also marks the beginning of his activities as an art collector, with his first purchases of Japanese ceramics, lacquer ware, Netsukeand sword fittings as well as Chinese jades. In all fields of art, he sought out works which displayed faultless craftsmanship and were aesthetically perfect. He nevertheless continued to manage his business in Colombo, expanding and diversifying it over the years, most notably through the acquisition of several tea plantations.
After the Second World War, A Baur & Company Limited. expanded rapidly, becoming one of the major importers and distributors in Sri Lanka of agro-chemicals, pharmaceutical specialties, industrial chemicals and textile dyes.
Baurs employs about 1000 people in its Colombo establishments and looks forward with optimism to continued growth and development. As always, the name Baurs stands for trust and reliability, quality and innovation.