The MJF Group’s origins date back to the 1950’s just after Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, became independent from British colonial rule. Founder of the Group, Merrill J. Fernando has devoted a lifetime to tea, the core business of the Group. He had his early tea training in Ceylon and then in the Mecca of tea, Mincing Lane, London. Challenging 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 and in 1974 he established his own company MJF Exports Ltd. That company was the first of a series of ground-breaking companies that today form the MJF Group.
Merrill 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 his vision for bringing quality back to tea and his commitment to integrity, tradition and personalized 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 100 countries around the world. Dilmah has revitalized a category in decline through genuine innovation, quality and freshness and is widely credited with halting the trend towards commoditization in tea.
In pursuit of excellence, Merrill has established the most integrated family tea business in the world with ownership or investment in plantations, printing and packaging, tea broking, import & distribution of equipment & materials for the industry – all with a single focus, the world’s finest cup of tea. The Group’s flagship tea brand, Dilmah, has re-established Ceylon Tea as the finest on earth.
Through his MJF Charitable Foundation, an NGO and recognized Charity, the Founder distributes much of his wealth to his staff & workers and to underprivileged persons in Sri Lanka. The Foundation’s key objectives include the improvement of medical and educational facilities for over 30,000 workers and their families on MJF Group plantations, and the approximately 1,500 staff and workers in its trading and production activities.
In 2002, the BBC described the Company in World Business Report on BBC World,
‘A Sri Lankan family tea company is challenging the multinational control of the global tea industry. Dilmah says it has become the third largest global tea brand by marketing its pure unblended Ceylon tea directly to the consumer in more than 80 countries worldwide. The idea is to revive the image of Ceylon tea as the best and most expensive tea in the world’.
The Group’s activities include:
- Manufacture & export of tea; in pre-packaged, branded form.
- Printing & packaging for tea and other industries.
- Tea, coconut, spices & rubber estates and broking.
- Real estate and property development.
- Import and distribution of packaging machinery & material.
- Investment & private portfolio management.
- Establishment and management of boutique leisure properties
- Improving the quality of life in the community with an emphasis on children & the elderly, especially on our estates.