Pan Britannica Industries

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Pan Britannica Industries Ltd
Industry Chemical
Fate Acquired
Founded Tennant Group of Companies[1]
Headquarters Waltham Cross, United Kingdom
Key people
Dr David Gerald Hessayon
Products Kylage, Baby Bio, Slug Pellets
Website PBI Home & Garden Ltd

Pan Britannica Industries Ltd (PBI) was a small company which had 400 employees. It was a household and agrochemical formulation company based at Britannica House, Stewardstone Road, Waltham Cross and with a distribution presence in Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. PBI was, in common with many other UK household names, both a manufacturer and marketing organisation for both agricultural and horticultural products.

PBI produced many agro-chemical formulations that were popular with farmers in many parts of the globe. However It was best known for its product Baby Bio, a liquid plant food that came in a notable small perfume-shaped bottle. Other major products by PBI are the Expert range of books, such as the Garden Expert, House Plant Expert, Greenhouse Expert etc. written by, Dr D.G. Hessayon, who later became chairman of PBI. The motto of these books is "Easy-to-follow advice and information you can trust". With this in mind they are colourful, informative, and contain accurate product information and literature.[2] The Company adopted this approach throughout all its products and brands. Such an approach was in no small way attributable to Dr. Hessayon, who was highly regarded within and outside both Agriculture and Horticulture, for many years.

The company was sold to the Sumitomo corporation in the late eighties, but continued to be run largely by the same management. It is now part of the Bayer Corporation, which markets the best of its brands. The Waltham Abbey site has been redeveloped into a housing estate. There is still a presence in Waltham Cross called PBI Home & Garden Ltd in the same building, now renamed Durkan house.

Similar UK operations were run by ICI Agriculture, Murphy Chemical Co, Allbright & Wilson (Farm Protection), Shell Chemical Company, BP and Fisons. Some small scale horticultural products were also packaged at the Waltham Abbey plant, including Draza Slug Pellets for Bayer Agriculture (now owner of the Bio Trade Mark). Companies such as Elanco, DuPont, Rohm & Haas and Stauffer actually manufactured, packaged, and labelled the vast majority of Chemical marketed by PBI.

Many of the products which PBI marketed gave it, a very small player, a strong market presence on the global agrochemicals scene. Due to legislation, many of the products have been discontinued in the west due to long-term human health issues, but were considered safe and manufactured by other companies around the world. Now only the benign formulas like Baby Bio have continued availability.

Dr Hessayon still writes Expert books but these are now published by Transworld.

Cancer allegations[edit]

The company did have one negative brush with fame when its formulation plant in Waltham Abbey was alleged to be at the centre and therefore the cause of a cancer hotspot.[3] This was highlighted by Storyline, an investigative television programme by Carlton Television, in early 1993. Reports of an unusual occurrence of cancer around the plant and subsequent legal action taken by the residents were the basis for this programme, which was followed by several articles in the press.[4]

The allegations were rejected by the then managing director, Mr. Jeremy Tear. No official body or agency then charged with the oversight of activities at the Waltham Abbey site had raised any concerns connected with the activity or safety procedures at the plant.


  • Published paper: Wilkinson P, Thakrar B, Shaddick G, Stevenson S, Pattenden S, Landon M, et al. 1997. "Cancer incidence and mortality around the Pan Britannica Industries pesticide factory, Waltham Abbey". Occup Environ Med 54(2):101–107.
  • PBI Home & Garden Ltd
  • Bayer