Established in 1859 as Playfair Duncan and Company, Duncans has become synonymous with tea. As its business expanded, the Birpara Tea Company was founded and the company was renamed Duncans Agro Industries.
In Dec.'93, the Duncan Goenka group ventured into the fertiliser industry by acquiring Chand Chhap Fertilizers and Chemicals from ICI India. The following year, Duncans Agro Industries was merged with Chand Chhap Fertilizers and Chemicals to form Duncans Industries. The company now produces both tea and fertilisers.
The company's fertiliser plant at Panki near Kanpur is one of the first nitrogenous fertiliser manufacturing units in the country with an installed capacity of 675 kT of urea and 411 kT of ammonia pa. The company makets its fertilisers under the Chand Chhap brand name, which is well-established, particularly in UP and Bihar.
The company's tea division owns 12 tea gardens in West Bengal and produces 15 mln kg pa of tea. 75-80% of the company's tea sales is in the form of packet tea. Apart from marketing its own tea in the domestic market, Duncans also purchases tea from auctions for blending and marketing package tea overseas for its international brands. It is undertaking an expansion programme for increasing the area under tea cultivation in the Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal.
Its five group companies, Arvind Investments, Keya Trading, Krish Management Services, Field Investments and Quandong Investments have been amalgamated with DIL from March 1, 1999. Synthesis loop revamp project was completed in June 1999. The replacement of the urea reactor at its facilities was also undertaken in the year. DIL also undertook projects in FY99 to reducing costs and conserve energy like naphtha efficiency programme, Indo-Dutch Ecoscan programme. It has roped in US based Synergics Energy Development as a partner for its upcoming Shringar Hydro Electric project at Uttar Pradesh. This project is expected to cost Rs 2.2 bn. The Company received ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 certificates in September,1999.
The fertilizer division has commissioned a major capital project and the project was completed and integrated with diverse facilities of site and constitutes a further step towards achieving zero effluent levels at the plant.An MOU was signed with GAIL for the supply of regassified liquified natural gas ('LNG') to Panki as a replacement for naptha as feedstock/fuel.
In 2000-01 the tea industry have been traumatic. Combative measures are being taken by the industry to arrest the downsizing.