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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Sri Lanka tea brand Dilmah is a family affair named after two sons

Ever since he was a child, Mr Dilhan Fernando has known that he would one day work in the tea business that his father founded in the 1950s, starting as a producer of tea for export.
The Straits Times - March 27, 2013
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Sri Lanka tea brand Dilmah is a family affair named after two sons

The calling for him became even stronger when his father, Merrill J. Fernando, now 83, launched Dilmah in 1988, naming the company after Dilhan and his older brother, Malik. From then on, the family business took care of everything from production to packaging, export and marketing.

Yet Dilhan, 44, says he has never seen his role in Dilmah as a job or one that he was entitled to. "If I had to have a job, I would have probably looked elsewhere," says Mr Fernando, a London School of Economics alumnus with a degree in politics and economics. He handles the marketing and development of new teas, while his brother Malik, 46, oversees the plantations.

"What my father set out to do was different. His philosophy was to make business a matter of human service."

Today, Dilmah controls tea plantations that span 36,000ha in Sri Lanka, some of which it fully owns, and others it owns in partnership with three tea plantation groups.

Mr Fernando was in town recently to launch the Uva Seasonal Flush tea at W Singapore at Sentosa Cove.

The father of three children aged five to 11 has already been exposing the next generation of Fernandos to the family business. The older of his two sons, aged 11, has expressed interest in the tasting of tea.

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