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.

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.

1992

In 1992, The government of Sri Lanka privatized the management of 22 regional plantation companies.

In 1996 saw the birth of Estate Management Services (Pvt) Ltd to manage Watawala Plantations Limited with a joint venture partnership entered between Watawala Plantations and Tata Tea Ltd of India.

Watawala together with Tata Tea strategically converted the trade to a productive and competitive trade.

1998

  • The tea brand Zesta was introduced to the market by Watawala Plantations and achieved the highest turnover within two years.

1999

  • Created new benchmark blending traditions with technology.

2000

  • Recorded highest ever turnover of Rs. 1.86 bn and highest ever tea production of 12 mn kg.

2001/02

  • Establishment of Tea Cup at Strathdon Estate

2002/03

  • Kenilworth Estate obtains the prestigious
  • ISO 9002:1994 International Certificate and HACCP Certification

2003/04

  • Reached a turnover of Rs. 2bn for the first time in history.

2004/05

  • Abbotsleigh Estate receives awards for – most number of top prices, Best Average and all time record prices for BOP & BOPF.
  • Dickoya Estate receives awards for best performance in Hatton/Dickoya region.

2005/06

  •  Henfold Estate receives highest net sale average for Lindula/Agarapathana sub districts.

2006/07

  • First Runner-up in the best annual reports awards competition held by ICASL.
  • Expansion to Oil palm plantations

2007/08

  • Awarded CTTA Specialty Tea Award of Excellence for most number of top prices for Western CTC High Grown Teas.
  • The first plantation company to be awarded Business Superbrands Status.
  • Diversification to Dairy Farming.

2008/09

  • Establishment of Spice Garden at Carolina Estate

2009/10

  • Gold Award for Business Excellence in the Agriculture and Plantations Sector.
  • Six tea gardens won best Prices at John Keells & Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers Annual Award Ceremonies.

2010/11

  • Won National Quality Merit Award, by Sri Lanka Standard Institute in the medium scale manufacturing company.
  • Lippakelle Estate won the award for the most number of top prices for High & Medium Category.

2011/12

  • Won the Gold Award for the Best Presented Accounts in Agriculture sector by South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) held in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Waltrim, state of the art tea factory was newly constructed and commissioned.

2012/13

  • Won the Bronze Award at JASTECA CSR Awards.
  • The Training opportunity given to Palm Oil Assistant Managers saw the light of Innovating a new Clamp for Telescopic Oil Palm Harvesting Pole, totally made by locally available material.

2013/14

  • Recipient of the Gold award at the Sri Lanka Institute of Training & Development  (SLITAD) People Development Award .
  • 6th Annual Report Gold Award
  • Certifications

2014/15

  • In a bid to take the sustainability route in Palm Oil production a steam turbine was introduced to the production facility, which eased the burden off the National Grid.

2015/16

  • Managing the Best Garden Mark Teas in Sri Lanka.
  • Kenilworth, Waltrim,  Adisham, Henfold and Dickoya
  • Won the GOLD award under Large category Manufacturing sector, at the SLBCC (Sri Lanka  China Business Co-operation Council) Business Star Awards.
  • Won the GOLD award under Agriculture sector, at the SAFA Best presented Annual Report Award.
  • Kenilworth VTC won the Award  for Promoting employment for the physically challenged at the CSR Leader ship award in Dubai.

2016/17

  • Sunshine Holdings PLC celebrates 50 years of responsible entrepreneurism in Sri Lanka
  • Watawala Plantations PLC won Gold Award at Annual Report Awards 2016

History of many Watawala Estates

Homadola Estate

  • The Last British Planter Mr. Arthur Pearson in Sri Lanka served in Homadola Estate. Picture shows the farewell for him in Homadola.

Talangaha Estate

  • Tea Plantation was introduced in Talangaha Estate in 1925 and Rubber was introduced in the late 1980’s. Talangaha Estate Factory is the largest factory in the Udugama Region where it has a trough capacity of 22000kgs of green leaf.

Agrakande Estate

  • British Proprietor Planter Mr. Ingles planted Tea and built a Factory in 1885 where it stands even today.

Abbotsleigh Estate

  • 1st British Planter Sir G.P. Fuller’s Great Grand Son visited the Abbotsleigh Estate on 28th February 2014.