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50 Years logo
Friday, 18th August 2017
3:52:51pm
 
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History

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Our journey began in 1992 when the government of Sri Lanka decided to privatize the “Management” of the then existing 22 Regional Plantation Companies which consisted of Tea, Rubber, Coconut & Palm Oil. This paved the path for a strategic joint venture between Watawala Plantations PLC and Tata Tea Ltd. of India. With this the plantations that came under its wings, received a new lease of life in terms of latest technology, financial stability and personal care where the workers are concerned, by effectively engaging in uplifting the life of the community economically, socially and culturally.

In 1992 up to 1996 Watawala Plantations was in the management custody of Lankem Plantations (Pvt) Ltd. It was only in the latter part of 1996 that Estates Management Services (Pvt) Ltd came to take on this all important role and steer Watawala Plantations to what it is today.

It was in actual fact that our true journey to greatness began from this point onwards. With the joint venture with Tata Tea India, Watawala Plantations PLC did take up the challenge of converting the trade into a productive and competitive one. The unique three crop advantage, tea, rubber and oil palm did provide Watawala Plantations the opportunity to move in many directions in terms of getting involved with the day to day lives of the people in Sri Lanka. In total the area of plantations spread over an area of 12,442.13 ha (hectares) out of which 41% was tea, 18% rubber and 8% under palm oil cultivation. Approximately 7% was kept aside for the purpose of fuel wood and the remaining was uncultivated.

Milestones in this journey to excellence are highlighted here below:
1996: The offer for sale enacted and the birth of a new beginning with Estate Management Services (Pvt) Ltd.
1997: Arriving at our vision for the Company as the way forward -‘We will take a path no one has walked before and many will want to follow’. The course is set.
1998: Company goals set and mission clearly defined in enhancing Company progress despite the economic earthquake that shook several Asian countries.
1999: Creating a new benchmark in Plantation Management by taking Sri lanka’s old traditions up new paths and blazing new trails in plantation management and value addition.
2000: A year of excellence achieving the highest turnover and highest level of tea production. See’s a breakthrough into the Indian market with our brand “Zesta” and the promotion of out teas worldwide through Tata’s acquired brand “Tetley”.
2001: The Art of Tea – Zesta takes the centre stage and with innovative thinking and marketing being the corner stone’s of a brands success and performance, the unique sales outlet in the “Tea Cup” comes into being.
2002: Excellence enhanced with five plantations achieving the prestigious Taiki Akimoto 5S awards - internationally recognized by the Corporate world as a benchmark for high quality and standards.
2003/2004: Building a lasting blend of Tea and Trust with the introduction of ‘Watawala Kahata’ to the market targeting our customers in the lower socio-economic stratum – a segment that comprises the largest within our population.
2004/2005: Our pursuit of excellence continues in both the domestic and international markets consolidating our tie-up with Tata Tetly in the UK and keeping the tradition of tea – the art of tea alive both in the minds and hearts of our valued customers.
2005/2006: Was a year of ‘Thriving for Excellence’ with three of our prime garden marks achieving all-time national record prices for selected grades of tea. Kenilwoth gets 9001:2000 and HACCP certified and Abbotsleigh ISO 9001:2000 certified. Being Runner –up in the best annual reports awards competition presented by the
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka was yet another achievement.
2006/2007: Our Thrust for Excellence continues with many of our marks receiving awards for the most number of Top Prices, highest sale average for the different Broker catalogues along with the continuation of being runner-up for the second year in succession for best annual reports awards competition presented by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka.
2007/2008: ‘We Make You Smile’ was the theme of our programme of activity in our path to Business excellence. Achieving Business Superbrands status – the first plantation company to do so, diversification to Dairy Farming and Spices and the establishment of the Spice Garden at Carolina Estate, achieving CTTA Speciality Tea sawards of excellence, most number of top prices for the western CTC high grown teas and HACCP certification of Abbotsleigh Estate were certainly happy occasions to smile about.
2008/2009: It was a year that opened up ‘A World with no Boundaries’. With business expanding and growing, the Company structure took a change for the better with the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the promotion of the existing CEO to Group Managing Director towards. The birth of Oliate Palm Oil a new brand of purified and edible kernel palm oil, recognition of seven of our tea gardens as authorized suppliers to the ‘Ethical Tea Partnership’, being awarded Fairtrade certification for seven of our estates by the Fairtrade Labeling Organization International Germany, extending the ISO 22000/HACCP certification program to cover more of our estates and having four of our garden marks receive the SGS – TASL Product Certification were certainly products of valued excellence. The birth of Watawala Agro Ltd. as a subsidiary company saw the establishment of a joint venture with Fiber Dust LLC, USA to produce bananas for export through Dole Lanka – a world renowned company having its head quarters in the USA.
2009/2010: ‘Coming together as One’ was the theme that served to depict the various attributes of the Watawala Family in our quest towards excellence. The achievement of a Two Star award in the Ceylon Tea Quality Certification (CQC-QMS) of the Sri Lanka Tea Board for Kenilworth Estate, the receipt of a merit award by Dickoya
Estate in the Sri Lanka National Quality Awards competition, Talangaha Estate securing a Gold Award amongst all Low Grown estates and receiving the Gold Award for excellence in the presentation of the Annual Report of the Plantation Sector 2008/2009 were the highlights of the years events.
Our key strength is our pursuit of excellence. We are perpetually moving towards adopting business practices that go even beyond the best practice. This is why our capital development initiatives are one step ahead of the pack and we intend to keep it that way. We believe firmly in constant innovation and bringing about that perpetual change from good to great.