Darjeeling, June 10: Makaibari Tea Estate in Kurseong, a family business since 1859, has entered into a “strategic” partnership with a Calcutta-based group with an eye on strengthening the brand globally.
The Luxmi Group, which will partner the Makaibari Tea and Trade Company, will help bring in new technology to the garden and promote Makaibari as a brand and market it.
Makaibari is one of the most recognised teas from the Darjeeling hills and the brew from the garden was served at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Rajah Banerjee, a fourth-generation planter and the proprietor of the Makaibari estate, said: “We have entered into a strategic alliance with Luxmi Group to develop our brand further. The group has picked up shares and they would bring in accountancy, technology and also strengthen marketing, both nationally and internationally.”
He did not divulge anything more on the shareholder’s role.
The planter said the changing times made him go for the “strategic alliance”.
“They (Luxmi Group) are one of the biggest carpet exporters from India. They have one of the best online accounting technologies. Their marketing network is also good and both carpets and Darjeeling tea are niche products,” Banerjee said.
He added that the garden would continue to function under Makaibari Tea and Trade Company.
“The tie up took place about a couple of months ago. I will continue to formulate policies for the garden and also look after its welfare as the chairman,” Banerjee said.
Luxmi Group does not have any other tea gardens in the Darjeeling hills.
The group owns a garden in Matelli in Jalpaiguri district and has estates in Sonitpur, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar and Cachar in Assam and one in north Tripura.
Dipankar Chatterjee is the chairman of Luxmi Group which also deals in real estate and is a developer of Uttarayon, a satellite township near Siliguri.
Makaibari has a total area of 573 hectares of which, 250 hectares is under tea cultivation.
The rest of the area has forest cover. The garden employs 636 workers.
The Banerjees are the only tea planters in Darjeeling who are based in the estate they own.