Camellia for Foliage, Flowers, Fruit & Tea

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Duncans Tea Limited Bigelow Inc Hillsdown Holdings plc.

Brief notes on the leading tea companies that operate in the UK market (in alpha sequence) are as follows:

a) Associated British Foods. Own Twinings who buy for Fortnum and Mason.

b) Camellia plc is the parent company of various holding companies around the world. It is a most successful producer and respected PLC. It provides the major content of many familiar brands.

c) Clipper is a Dorset-based independent company. It has an innovative approach to the market and proves that there is room for new entrants (it started in the 1980s). The emphasis is on niche and Fairtrade products.

d) Dilmah, which operates in Britain but has HQ in Sri Lanka, is the brand owned by MJF. The MJF Group's origins date back to the 1950s, just after Sir Lanka, then Ceylon, became independent from British colonial rule.

Merrill J Fernando, the founder of the Group, had his early tea training in Ceylon and in the then-Mecca of tea, Mincing Lane, London. Questioning the system that prevented him from marketing Ceylon Tea packed at origin, Merrill returned to Ceylon determined to change the structure of the trade. That took him almost 25 years. In 1974 he established his own company, MFJ Exports Ltd. That company was the genesis of the MJF Group which is today the 7th largest tea packer in the world and Sir Lanka's leading exporter of value-added tea with a turnover of approximately 8 billion rupees in 2000.

Merill heads the family-managed Group to this day, with his two sons and a dedicated team of professionals. The Group retains Merrill's early emphasis on integrity, tradition and personalised customer service. The Group's Dilmah brand, coined by the Founder from the names of his two sons Dilhan and Malik, is known for its quality in almost 90 countries around the world. Dilmah claims to have revitalized a category in decline through genuine innovation, quality and freshness. In pursuit of excellence Merrill integrated the family tea business with ownership or investment in plantations, printing and packaging, tea broking, import and distribution of equipment and materials for the industry. The Group employs approximately 1,500 staff and workers in its trading and production activities.

The company engages in innovative marketing that perhaps only an "underdog" could achieve. Where legislation prevents certain claims from being expressed on the box the answer is to enclose literature for the buyer

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