By Jagdish Hathiramani
A Sri Lankan tea company that held an Initial Public Offering (IPO) late last year has signalled plans to become publicly quoted by seeking a listing in a global stock exchange.
Speaking exclusively to the Business Times, Rohan Fernando, Chairman of HVA Foods PLC, Sri Lanka's only publicly listed tea exporter and brand owner of Heladiv Iced Tea which raised in excess of Rs. 300 million in a 2010 IPO, noted that his company had a long term plan to list its shares at London- or New York-based global exchanges.
He also revealed that the company planned to locally launch the first cafe in what he called the Heladiv Tea Club in August or September of this year with the intention that this becomes a global franchise. Saying this would be "activity based" offering which is more in line with the more social settings of coffee shops, he also reiterated that it will be tea focused while also serving coffee and other beverages, food, etc. He also indicated that this first outlet, which will be "centrally located" close to the stock market, will have big screen LCDs and even feature Colombo Stock Exchange information and a bookings-based board room type space for meetings and special occasions, etc.
Mr. Fernando also suggested this outlet would prove to be a one stop shop for all things tea and would allow visitors a wide variety of features, including even selling tea to friends and family in other countries.
He also said that this location will also be used to showcase cultural activies such as the traditional Japanese and Chinese tea ceremonies so as to educate visitors on the long history of tea.
He also noted that the company's Heladiv Ice Tea brand, which has been available in the Middle East and Russia for some time, was currently entering markets in the Australasia region as well as USA and the West Indies. Meanwhile, a tea bath health product created by the company is already being marketed on a small scale in Central America, such as Belize, as well as in China while a tea-based mouth wash is also being test marketed, all with the intention of going into large scale production. Further, cosmetic products based on a tea cream will be test marketed over the coming year.
Also revealed, by the end of 2011, the company will be ready for the ISO 14000 Green certification audit with the intention that "2012 will herald HVA Foods PLC as a green manufacturing facility" where even practices such as incineration of waste products will be supplanted with greener alternatives.