Finlay Tea as most of us will recognize in Bangladesh initially started as a tea producing company 250 years ago but in recent years, expanded its product portfolio to other agricultural products such as rubber, timber, fuel, bamboo, black pepper and sun grasses etc. The company also ventured into retail market with its own name brand packet tea.
Incorporation: James Finlay, a Scottish company, ventured into India to plant tea in the early 1800 century. They laid the foundation to develop tea in this part of the world and owned many tea companies. There were many other tea companies for which Finlay’s was the managing agent. The tea companies which were owned by Finlay’s in Bangladesh were known by the names “The Consolidated Tea & Lands Co.(Bangladesh)Ltd. and Baraoora (Sylhet) Tea Company Limited. There are 16 tea gardens under these two companies producing over 15 million kg of tea annually.
Ajam Z Chowdhury, the current Chairman at Finlays Ltd. is an industrialist and entrepreneur in Bangladesh. He is also the Chairman of East Coast Group, a fast growing company engaged in International Trading, Manufacturing, Engineering, Lubricants, LPG, Wooden Poles, Real Estate, including investments in banks, Finance, Leasing and Insurance having main focus on Oil and Gas business.
A.Q.I. Chowdhury OBE, the current Managing Director of Finlays Ltd. began his career with James Finlay Limited in 1969 joining as a covenant staff in the tea gardens. A proven leader, Mr. Chowdhury worked his way up the company’s ranks to become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 1993. Mr. Chowdhury has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by her Majesty the Queen of England for his outstanding contributions in the field of trade and commerce as a high profiled Business Executive.
Finlay’s History: James Finlay was originally a trader and manufacturer of cotton, ventured in India to plant tea. The company’s origin date back to 1882 with incorporation in the UK as North Sylhet Tea Company Ltd and the South Sylhet Tea Company Ltd. The two companies were merged in 1896 to form the Consolidated Tea and Lands Company Ltd. Baraoora Tea Company Ltd. was first incorporated in England in 1879 in which James Finlay had a significant stake. In 1983 James Finlay had acquired the remaining share to make it a wholly owned subsidiary company.
Between 1955 – 1973 The company’s assets were transferred into three subsidiaries with those in Sylhet passing to The Consolidated Tea and Lands Co. (Pakistan) Ltd. Following the independence of Bangladesh, the company adopted its present name ( Finlay).
In 2000, the ownership of James Finlay and the tea companies was taken over by Swire Group of Britain and retained all assets of the previous companies in Bangladesh.
In 2006, local entrepreneurs along with then appointed CEO of James Finlay A.Q.I.Chowdhury (OBE) bought Finlay Tea from Swire Group.
Finlay Tea Estate: Finlay’s Tea Estate has an area of about 16000 hectares in Sreemongol and Habigonj producing over 15 million Kg of tea annually. The entire estate is divided into 7 Division Consisting of 16 Tea Gardens.
It also has an amazing landscape, a prestigious Balisira Valley Club, Over 80 Bunglowes and an unique cemetery for the deceased member of the expatriate community who came during the early years of tea plantation, maintained by the company in Deanston tea estate.
Finlay Tea Factory: Finlay tea has number well equipped factories located within the estate so that it can guarantee quality and freshness are preserved. There are 7 black tea factories, 1 green tea factory, 5 rubber factories and 1 poly pack factory. The production capacity of these factories are 11.9 million kg of black tea, 0.5 million Kg of green tea per year and 850 tons of rubber. The poly pack factory can process 5 million Kg tea annually.
Finlay’s Contribution: In 2016 Finlay tea has produced 15.76 Million Kilos of Premium Grade Tea and sold both in auction and retail market. Tea Market Size in Bangladesh is about 80 Million out of which Finlay Contributed 15.76 Million. 75% of Finlay tea is sold in auction to various retailers and the remaining 25% is packed and sealed by Finlay’s own packaging division and distributed through its five distribution center across the country.
Finlay’s Welfare Program: Finlay has over 30 thousand employees making it one of the largest employers in the country. It provides housing for all its workers in the garden. Finlay tea maintains 9 estate hospitals around the tea gardens to provide medical care fully funded by the company. 2 high schools and 29 primary schools have been built to provide free education to employees’ children. Finlay ensures safe drinking water and transportation for all its workers. Finlay estate also maintain a number of recreational facilities within the garden such as balisera valley club equipped with all modern amenities e.g: cricket ground, football ground, 9 holes golf court, squash and a swimming pool for all its employees.
Heritage: An unique cemetery for the deceased member of the expatriate community who came during the early years of tea plantation, maintained by the company in Deanston tea estate.
Tea Research & Development: High Tech Equipments are used within Finlay Tea research facility. Research focuses therefore on development of improved clones, appropriate technologies for improvement of yield (quantity of green tea leaf/made tea per hectare) and quality of tea products. Finlay has also funded the National Tea Research Institution in Sreemongol to help enhance the quality of tea production in Bangladesh.