Finlays sells its tea business in Kenya to Sri Lankan firm

Browns Investments PLC has announced that it has reached an agreement with Finlays to purchase its tea estates business James Finlay Kenya. 

 A highly successful diversified conglomerate and part of the LOLC Holdings PLC group companies, Browns Group is the largest producer of Ceylon tea in Sri Lanka. It owns Maturata Plantations, Hapugastenne Plantations PLC, and Udapussellawa Plantations PLC, and is one of the largest tea-producing companies in Sri Lanka consisting of 49 individual estates that stretch across an area of over 30,000 hectares and employs over 10,000 individuals.  

The purchase, which will be completed in the next few months, will include all parts of James Finlay Kenya Ltd except the Saosa tea extraction facility. This will remain under Finlays’ ownership and the business will continue to source leaf tea, timber, and other services directly from James Finlay Kenya, meaning an uninterrupted service to existing customers. This is Browns’ first investment within Kenya, and it sees the Kenyan tea industry as an exciting, long-term growth opportunity.  

While the sale process is concluded, operations for James Finlay Kenya will be business as usual, and a full plan is under development to ensure a smooth transition. On completion of the sale, Browns intends to continue to run the business as it has been operated until now, as a leading global supplier of Kenyan tea, under a new name. There will be no change in the employment arrangements for current employees of James Finlay Kenya. 

As part of the sale agreement, Browns and Finlays have mutually agreed to acknowledge the long-standing support of the local community by selling 15% of shares in James Finlay Kenya to a locally owned co-operative. Browns and Finlays have identified a preferred third party which is currently in discussions. 

Browns Investments PLC was selected by Finlays as the preferred buyer because of its strong legacy of guiding its tea estates to continued growth, but also its focus on doing so sustainably while supporting its workforce and local communities. In December 2021, Browns acquired Finlays’ Sri Lankan tea estates business, which has gone from strength to strength, demonstrating Browns’ successful commitment to sustainable growth. 

James Finlay Kenya is Brown’s first investment in the Kenyan tea industry which it sees as an exciting opportunity for growth. Browns also own a plantation business in Sierra Leone, and James Finlay Kenya will therefore be its second agricultural business in Africa. 

 “We’re proud to be moving a business with such a proud heritage into a new phase of sustainable growth. James Finlay Kenya is an incredible business powered by an incredible community and it has an exciting future. We warmly welcome all members of the James Finlay Kenya team into the Browns family,” said Kamantha Amarasekera, Director of Browns Investments PLC  

 “We undertook a rigorous process when identifying a buyer for the unique business that is James Finlay Kenya prioritising what was best for James Finlay Kenya and its community. Having seen first-hand Browns’ unwavering focus on supporting local people and their communities to thrive when acquiring Finlays Sri Lankan tea estates business in 2021, we have no doubt that Browns is the ideal strategic investor for JFK. We will continue to have a very close relationship with James Finlay Kenya. We look forward to continuing to source tea from James Finlay Kenya and championing Kenyan tea and botanicals across the world,” opined James Woodrow, Group Managing Director of Finlays

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