Putting Pilkington in the Frame

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1826: St Helens Crown Glass Company is founded by John William Bell, a glass expert, with capital from three influential local families, the Bromilows, the Greenalls and the Pilkingtons. William Pilkington was one of the original shareholders.

1826: St Helens Crown Glass Company is founded by John William Bell, a glass expert, with capital from three influential local families, the Bromilows, the Greenalls and the Pilkingtons. William Pilkington was one of the original shareholders.

1829: Renamed Greenall & Pilkington.

1845: Repeal of glass excise duty removes advantages enjoyed by Crown glass makers and strengthens Pilkington's competitive strength because it has invested in producing sheet glass by the blown cylinder process.

1849: Peter Greenall withdraws, firm renamed Pilkington Brothers.

1871: Pilkington moves into plate glass.

1903: Pilkington emerges as sole British producer of flat glass following industry consolidation in the previous 25 years.

1931: Pilkington adopts PPG, a new continuous flat-drawn process for glass production.

1952: Alastair Pilkington (right) conceives the idea of forming a ribbon of glass by floating the melted raw materials at high temperature over a bath of molten tin. It took seven years and more than £7m (£80m today) to develop the process, unveiled in 1959. Float glass becomes the norm.

1970: Pilkington becomes a public company, issuing 10 per cent of the family's shares to the public.

1973: Lord Pilkington retires, after 24 years as chairman. Succeeded by Alastair Pilkington, the inventor of the float glass process.

1980: Antony Pilkington becomes chairman.

1986: Pilkington repels hostile takeover bid from BTR.

1990-1992: Recession hits the company. Float glass prices fall by 25 per cent. Operating profits on flat and safety glass fall from £293m to £139m.

1992: Roger Leverton becomes first outsider to be appointed chief executive.

1994: Pilkington reached agreement with the US government on the proprietary nature of its float bath technology. Existing licensees can use early technology, in confidence, worldwide, but current and future technology would continue to be operated through normal licensing arrangements. Nigel Rudd, chairman of Williams Holdings, appointed to the Pilkington board as a non-executive director.

1995: Nigel Rudd succeeds Sir Antony Pilkington to become the first non-Pilkington chairman.

1995: Sir Alastair Pilkington dies. At the time of his death, his process had been licensed to 42 manufacturers in 30 countries and there were more than 170 plants in operation, under construction or planned.

1996: Paolo Scaroni appointed to new post of President Automotive Products Worldwide, joining Pilkington from Italian engineering firm Techint, having been managing director of a joint venture between the two companies.

1997: Paolo Scaroni joins the board in March, and succeeds Roger Leverton in May, speeding up overhead cost reductions of £100m by the beginning of the financial year 1998-99. Geographically based organisations are eliminated.

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