• 70 years of Tea Inspiration

    “I devoted my life to tea” Merrill J. Fernando
    #DoTryIt

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A Life Devoted to Tea

 Merrill J. Fernando’s devotion to Tea is a tale of uncompromising commitment to quality and purpose that lies beyond profit. Here is how he converted Dilmah Tea into a cup of kindness.

  • LIfe Story - 1930

    1930

    Merrill J. Fernando born in Negombo.

  • LIfe Story - 1950

    1950

    MJF learns tea tasting under O P Rust, Ceylon Tea Controller’s Advisor.

  • LIfe Story - 1954

    1954

    Merrill J. Fernando starts to work as a Tea Assistant with Arthur Frederick Jones and his sons Dennis & Alan Jones at AF Jones & Co.

  • LIfe Story - 1954

    1954

    In October that year he departs for London on MV Himalaya and spends 12 months in London with Joseph Travers & Sons Ltd., 119 Cannon Street, London EC4.

  • LIfe Story - 1958

    1958

    Appointed Managing Director by the owning family of A. F. Jones & Co.

  • LIfe Story - 1962

    1962

    Resigned from A F Jones and started Ceylon Tea Services Company, later that year establishing Merrill J. Fernando Company and exporting bulk tea to Russia, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Libya, Egypt & Saudi Arabia.

  • LIfe Story - 1966

    1966

    Malik J. Fernando is born.

  • LIfe Story - 1968

    1968

    Dilhan C. Fernando is born.

  • LIfe Story - 1974

    1974

    MJF Co Ltd., cited by the Agency House Commission as the most successful Ceylon bulk tea trading company recording the highest net profit. 

  • LIfe Story - 1976

    1976

    MJF temporarily retires from the Sri Lankan Tea Trade and hands over Merrill J. Fernando Company to his former partner. 

  • LIfe Story - 1982

    1982

    Merrill J. Fernando establishes Ceylon Tea Services Ltd., floated as a public company on the request of the government to support a fledgling Colombo Stock Exchange.

  • LIfe Story - 1985

    1985

    The launch of Sri Lanka’s first valued added Ceylon Tea Brand “Dilma” with Mauri Foods.

  • Life Story - 1988

    1988

    Merrill J. Fernando was invited to supply Dilmah branded Ceylon Tea to V/O Sojuzplodoimport in Moscow, Russia. Dilmah Tea was supplied across the Soviet Union.

  • Life Story - 1990

    1990

    Dilmah Founder launches the “Do Try it!” campaign, directed by Daron Curtiss, of New Zealand agency Curtiss & Spence.

  • Life Story - 1994

    1994

    Dilmah Tasting and Packing Factory awarded ISO 9002 Certification.

  • Life Story - 1994

    1994

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

  • Life Story - 2000

    2000

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

  • Life Story - 2001

    2001

    Dilmah sponsors Sri Lanka National Cricket Team.

  • Life Story - 2001

    2001

    MJF Plantations purchases a controlling interest in Kahawatte Plantations Ltd.

  • Life Story - 2002

    2002

    The MJF Charitable Foundation is established, formalising a commitment to making business a matter of human service with mandatory contribution to social impact.

  • Life Story - 2004

    2004

    December 26th a tsunami hits Sri Lanka with over 35,000 lives lost.

  • Life Story - 2004

    2004

    The Merrill J. Fernando Foundation undertakes its first major relief effort, with the Small Entrepreneur Programme benefiting survivors of the tsunami. The project has gone on to empower over 2,000 startup businesses.

  • Life Story - 2005

    2005

    Dilmah Launches the Tea Gastronomy Revolution with “Thé Culinaire”.

  • Life Story - 2005

    2005

    Launch of Ceylon Tea Trails - An iconic collection of 5 colonial era tea planters’ bungalows restored to impeccable style.

  • Life Story - 2007

    2007

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

  • Life Story - 2007

    2007

    Dilmah awarded Superbrands.

  • LIfe Story - 2007

    2007

    In 2007, Dilmah Conservation was announced as a business objective of the MJF Group of companies, with the aim of protecting the environment by encouraging a harmonious co-existence between man and nature.

  • Life Story - 2008

    2008

    Inaugural Dilmah Chefs and the Teamaker Australia programmes.

  • Life Story - 2009

    2009

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

  • Life Story - 2010

    2010

    Dilmah pledges a core commitment to sustainability.

  • Life Story - 2010

    2010

    British Retail Consortium Global Standard for Food Safety certification obtained.

  • Life Story - 2010

    2010

    Merrill J. Fernando celebrates his 80th birthday.

  • Life Story - 2010

    2010

    Dilmah Conservation launches ‘Greening the East Project’.

  • Life Story - 2014

    2014

    Launch of Cape Weligama, Sri Lanka’s most luxurious beach resort, the 2nd of 3 Relais & Chateaux resorts to be established by Resplendent Ceylon. 

  • Life Story - 2014

    2014

    Dilmah Founder, Merrill J. Fernando pledges to make Dilmah carbon neutral by the year 2017.

  • Life Story - 2015

    2015

    Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando named an Honouree of the Oslo Business for Peace Award, chosen by a committee of Nobel laureates for ethical and sustainable business.

  • Life Story - 2016

    2016

    The Dilmah School of Tea receives World Chefs certification.

  • Life Story - 2016

    2016

    Merrill J Fernando addresses the main forum at the World Chefs Congress.

  • Life Story - 2016

    2016

    Merrill J Fernando named Global Businessman at the Sri Lankan of the year Awards. Merrill J. Fernando felicitated as ‘Honoured Citizen’ by the Mayor of Colombo.

  • Life Story - 2016

    2016

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

  • Life Story - 2017

    2017

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

  • Life Story - 2017

    2017

    Dilmah Founder, Merrill J. Fernando recognized by Business Today in the ‘Passionate 2017’ list of Sri Lankans.

  • Life Story - 2018

    2018

    Dilmah Ceylon Tea product becomes Carbon Neutral covering over 1800 products.

  • Life Story - 2018

    2018

    Dilmah Tea Founder honoured by World Chefs with Lifetime Achievement Award.

  • Life Story - 2018

    2018

    Dilmah Founder  Merrill J. Fernando honoured by the International Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka as one of the 3 Most Admired Leaders and Dilmah as one of Sri Lanka’s Most Admired Companies.

  • Life Story - 2019

    2019

    Dilmah Founder, Merrill J. Fernando was bestowed with the “Deshamanaya” title at the recent National Honours Ceremony presided by President Maithripala Sirisena.

  • Life Story - 2019

    2019

    Dilmah’s Natural Infusions wins the Australian consumer award for Product of the Year 2020.

  • Life Story - 2019

    2019

    Dilmah Tea Founder Merrill J. Fernando was capped as a Doctor of Science by Massey University in New Zealand.