DILMAH TIMELINE

Merrill J. Fernando dedicated his life to tea when in the 1950s, he saw the concentration of ownership in the tea industry in the hands of a few large corporations. This was leading to the commoditisation of tea. He decided that in the interest of tea drinkers around the world, and the crop that his country produced with so much care and artistry, he would fight this process of commoditisation.

2017

Empower Culinary & Hospitality School receives prestigious World Chefs Certification

The MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment model replicated in Sri Lanka’s East

Dilmah Conservation Launched the first Urban Arboretum

Dilmah is a Carbon Neutral facility fulfilling its pledge made in 2014 to become Carbon Neutral by 2017

2016

Merrill J. Fernando honoured with FIRST Award for Responsible Capitalism for improving the lives of underprivileged children and deprived communities

MJF Charitable Foundation develops Kayts Base hospital in North of Sri Lanka

MJFCF’s Empower Culinary and Hospitality School launched, creating new avenues for disadvantaged youth with empowerment through education in the gastronomy and hospitality industry of Sri Lanka.

Merrill J Fernando named Global Businessman at the Sri Lankan of the year awards, Merrill J. Fernando felicitated as ‘Honoured Citizen’ The award by Colombo Municipal Council

Ceylon Tea Services PLC becomes Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company PLC

MJF Kids Programme celebrates its first decade of excellence

The 3rd T-Lounge is opened in founder’s hometown, Negombo, Sri Lanka

DC novel species program describes its first snake species (Dendrelaphis sinharajensis), and the discovers a species of Gecko (Cnemaspis rajakarunai).

DC launches the ‘One Earth Nature Club’, publishes ‘Common Forest Trees of Sri Lanka’

Dilmah’s 107 Global partners sign Carbon Neutral Dilmah Pledge

In research project supported by Dilmah Conservation 8 lichen species new to science were discovered. Including a new species discovered within Dilmah’s Queensberry estate and so named ‘Heterodermia queensberryi’.

Merrill J Fernando addresses the main forum at World Chefs Congress as the only true voice of the farmer

Dilmah Conservation inaugurates Sri Lanka’s first Climate Change Research Station in Dilmah’s Queensbury estate in Nawalapitiya

DC launches Merrill J. Fernando Eco-Innovation Awards

MJF Charitable Foundation opens The National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy and Development Disorders

Dilmah first T-Lounge in India

Dilmah’s school of tea receives WACS certification

2015

2015 - New species of shrub frog named after Dilmah, Pseudophilautus dilmah

Dilmah T-Lounges in Indonesia, Malaysia

Dilmah Real High Tea Global Challenge

“what is very interesting when you see how Dilmah has pushed the boundaries of tea they are pushing the boundaries in similar ways to how wine has been approached with different origins, different heights, different flavours - it becomes very interesting to see how that can marry not only in cooking but also used as a pairing to food like you do in wine, so it is a great experience actually, it’s a huge eye opener!” Ragnar Fridriksson Managing Director of WACS

Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando honoured with Oslo Business for Peace Award

2014

DC publishes ‘An introduction to Common Spiders of Sri Lanka’ and ‘Recognising deadly venomous Snakes from Harmless snakes of Sri Lanka

Dilmah founder, Merrill J. Fernando takes pledge to make Dilmah Carbon Neutral by the year 2017.

2013

Ahikuntaka cultural center to preserve the heritage of the community established in Kudagama by DC

8 new species of frog discovered under DC’s Novel Species program

Veddah Handicraft and Pottery Centre was declared open by DC

“Merrill J. Fernando has been a privilege to watch by many measures of a true champion, whether it is about tea, people, passion, pride, mate-ship, family, principles, guts and determination or a never-say-die self belief. Merrill is admired for many of these attributes.” Eric Ellis/ Media – The Sydney Morning Herald

Thoppigala heritage center opened

‘Fine tea has the ability to dignify food in a way that no other beverage can. Functionally, tea is an elegant accompaniment to food for its ability to cleanse the palate of fats, sweetness and prepare the taste buds to appreciate the next dish. Good food, good tea, delicious individually but together having the potential to produce a magical sensation on the palate.” Dilhan C. Fernando Son of Dilmah Founder Merrill J Fernando

FSSC 22000 – Certification scheme for food Safety Systems including ISO 22000: 2005 , ISO/TS 22002-1 and additional FSSC 22000 requirements

Dilmah T-Lounge at Chatham opened

Teamaker and the Mixologists Programme

“I know now that when I go back to Australia, everything that I see, smell and touch that is to do with a product of tea, it is a completely new world.” Simon Toohey, Celebrity Mixologist, Australia

First Real High Tea Challenge in the Middle East - Dubai and Abu Dhabi

2012

Dilmah Conservations together with the IUCN and Chamber of Commerce set up the first private sector environmental body, the Sri Lanka Business and Biodiversity Platform.

“With Merrill, you are never told, you are invited to share his passion and knowledge for not only tea, but his beautiful country and his world of giving to those less fortunate. And with his kind and humbling manner and generous heart, you are instantly swept up with admiration for his work and achievement and of course Sri Lankan Tea.” Allyson Gofton/Food Writer and TV Presenter New Zealand.

First species under DC’s Novel Species Paving the Way for Biodiversity Conservation described. The species was named Polypedates ranwellai.

First Real High Tea in New Zealand and Singapore

Dilmah embarks on a partnership with Shangri-La hotels worldwide

2011

Veddah community clan gathering was supported by DC

Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Center set up at Moratuwa

Launch of Teamaker’s Private Reserve

Ahikuntika (Gypsy) community’s 2011 Varigasabha or clan meeting, the first of its kind in 6 decades, organized by the Dilmah Conservation

DC launches large scale investigation on current Dugong populations in Eastern Sri Lanka, acquiring valuable information that can serve as a base for Dugong research in the future.

Launch of Dilmah Real High Tea Consumer and Professional Challenge in Australia

“Many of the world’s trendy latte-sippers may have long looked down on tea as the favourite tipple of an eccentric great-aunt, but Dilmah is positioning tea as a gourmet product, clawing back some of the $85 billion world hot beverage market conceded to coffee’s 75 per cent share by making tea fashionable” Eric Ellis/ Media – The Sydney Morning Herald

Inauguration of Tea in the Five Senses

2010

DC launches ‘Greening the East Project’

British Retail consortium Global Standard for Food Safety certification obtained

Merrill J. Fernando celebrates his 80th birthday

Dilmah pledges a core commitment to sustainability

2009

Dilmah School of Tea inaugurated in Colombo

“IUCN appreciates the foresight and leadership of Mr. Merrill J. Fernando and the MJF Charitable Foundation for the pioneering work in recognising the need and opportunities for mainstreaming and integrating environmental aspects in business...” Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General, IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature

First International Tea School established at the Institute Paul Bocuse in France

Dilmah Conservation sets up a visitor information centre at Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home.

Dilmah celebrates its 21st Anniversary and the Founder’s 60th year in tea

“Among all the platitudes that deservedly come Merrill’s way, I would find it hard to surpass one very special aspect of his makeup. That is the work he does for the community. The sums of money he expends on this are colossal money spent to uplift people who he has never ever seen or met in his life! I honestly believe that he is doing, to quote John F. Kennedy, “God’s work on earth”. God does not come down himself to do his work, but gives people that task and Merrill is one of God’s direct messengers I think. If there were four or five other business people like him in Sri Lanka, a lot of the problems would be solved and this country would be totally different. That is the magnitude of the work carried out by Merrill’s Charitable Foundation. ” Selvam Mather/Friend and Business Associate

2008

Under the guidance of Dilmah Conservation, Dilmah’s tea estates begin applying Biochar into soil. Biochar is a soil enhancer produced using organic biomass, in this case, waste tea.

Inaugural Dilmah Chefs and the Teamaker Australia programmes

“This is an industry that has been incredibly slow to innovate, and relatively tiny Dilmah has showed it how.” William Gorman, Executive chairman of Britain’s Tea Council

2007

Dilmah awarded as Superbrands

“I was struck by Merrill’s unwavering passion – not just in terms of sales made and dollars earned, but in the importance he placed on quality, tradition and his willingness to share and discuss his Dilmah and tea in every detail.” Daron Curtiss / Advertising Partner New Zealand

Dilmah wins Best Corporate Citizen Award

Dilmah wins People’s Export Brand of the year at the SILM-Nielsen Peoples Awards

“Merrill has been a great leader and an example for all future generations of business people here as well as abroad. A truly remarkable Sri Lankan, whom I have been proud to call my friend and I am overjoyed to congratulate on a successful completion of twenty one years of Dilmah.” Selvam Mather/Friend and Business Associate

First Dilmah tea sommelier competition outside Sri Lanka held in Myanmar

Inaugural Dilmah real High Tea Challenge in Sri Lanka

Launch of the Dilmah Exceptional Range of Teas

Official inauguration of Dilmah Conservation

2006

The inaugural outdoor event for MJF Kids “Pahan Tharuwa” held in Colombo

MJF Charitable Foundation launches the MJF Kids Programme, to nature the hidden talents of the kids from the under privilege families around the Dilmah Factory

2005

Dilmah Launches the Tea Gastronomy Revolution with “The Culinaire”

Dilmah receives Presidential Merit Award for its contribution to the preservation of the environment

Dilmah receives award from Medinge Group for its work as a Brand with a Conscience

International think tank announces 2005 Top Brands With A Conscience. The Medinge Group, an international think-tank on branding and business, today releases its second annual ‘Top Brands With a Conscience’ list. In the Group’s opinion, these brands show that it is possible for brands to contribute to the betterment of the society. The international collective of brand practitioners meets annually in August at a secluded location outside Stockholm, Sweden, and collaborate on the list, judging nominees on principles of humanity and ethics, rather than financial worth. The Brands With A Conscience List is evaluated on criteria including evidence of the human implications of the brand and considering the question of whether the brand takes risks in line with its beliefs. Evaluations are made based on reputation, selfrepresentation, history, direct experience, contacts with individuals within the organizations, media and analysts and an assessment of the expressed values of sustainability.

MJF Foundation Launches Small Entrepreneur programme to support the Tsunami victims

“In the initial years, during the launch of the Dilmah brand in the Australian market, it faced daunting competition from established international brands. Only a man like Merrill, singularly committed to the cause of pure Ceylon tea, could have the staying power to make a success of this project.” Victor Santhiapillai/Former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB)

2004

December 26th Tsunami hits south coast of Sri Lanka

2003

Launch of Dilmah T-Series and first Dilmah T-Lounge at Trans Asia Hotel (Presently Cinnamon Lakeside)

History of Ceylon Tea website set up: historyofceylontea.com

“The legacy of Dilmah is not only for Malik and Dilhan but for the whole country.” Malinga H. Gunaratne/Tea Planter

First Dilmah Global Partner Conference at Trans Asia Hotel, Colombo

2002

The MJF Charitable Foundation is officially inaugurated

2001

MJF Plantations purchases a controlling interest in Kahawatte Plantations Ltd

Dilmah Sponsors Sri Lanka Cricket

2000

MJF Group acquires 70% share in Forbes & Walker (Pvt) Ltd

1997

MJF Plantations Ltd invests in Talewakelle Plantations Ltd and Elpitiya Plantations Ltd

Dilmah Tasting and Packing Factory awarded ISO 9002 Certification for tasting

1994

New Dilmah factory built at 111, Negombo Road, Peliyagoda, Colombo

1989

Dilmah Founder launches the “Do Try it!” campaign

“Merrill became the ultimate advertising asset- a believable presenter- because he lived his product. I was confident we had a living legend in the making.” Daron Curtiss/Advertising Partner New Zealand

1988

Dilmah Tea launched in Australia

“His passion and pride in his Dilmah brand has made him stand out from his competitors not only in the tea category, but also against any brand on the Australian Supermarket shelves.” Murray Johnston/Woolworths, Australia

1985

Merrill J. Fernando is asked to supply prepacked teas to Russia

1982

Merrill J. Fernando establishes Ceylon Tea Services Ltd

1976

MJF sells MJF Co Ltd

1975

MJF considers retiring from the tea industry

1973

MJF registers MJF Exports Ltd

MJF Co Ltd makes 8.2 cents profit per pound of tea sold, highest net profit over Brooke Bond

1972

Ceylon becomes a Republic and changes its name to Sri Lanka but the tea industry keeps its old name

1968

Dilhan C. Fernando is born

1966

Malik J. Fernando is born

1959

MJF appointed Managing Director of AF Jones

1958

MJF is appointed a director of AF Jones and buys AF Jones with 2 partners when the company owners decide to return to England

1954

Spends 12 months in London with Joseph Travers & Sons Ltd

Merrill J. Fernando starts work with AF Jones

1948

Ceylon gains independence

1946

Ceylon Tea Centre opens in London’s Regent Street

1930

Merrill J. Fernando born in Negombo

1925

Tea Research Institute - TRI established

1894

Colombo Tea Traders’ Association established under the auspices of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

1883

First tea auction in Colombo

1867

Railway from Colombo to Kandy opens

James Taylor lays out the first tea plantation in Ceylon

1839

First tea seeds arrive from Assam at Ceylon’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya

1816

Reverend Ringletaube suggests growing tea in Ceylon

1815

MJF Charitable Foundation develops Kayts Base hospital in North of Sri Lanka

Ceylon becomes British colony