Blue Funnel Line in 1865 turned out to be a very good decision by Alfred Holt, though it was helped by a number of factors.
Firstly it was one of the first, if not the first to use iron hulled steam powered screw propelled vessels to carry cargo between Britain and the far East.
Then it was fortunate that the Suez Canal was to open just four years later, a route that was quicker than round the Cape of Good Hope and easier for powered ships than sail.
Furthermore there was a huge growth in cargo to be transported as China and neighbouring countries opened up and there was a continuing stream of new areas of business. They were well located, with their main base in Liverpool where they were the largest shipping company.
But margins were not driven too low to be profitable as conferences with other shipping companies ensured prices that allowed long term planning.
They also made good management decisions, as will be blogged the day after tomorrow.
Image from here