1896 Over a century ago, Punjana was beginning its life near the docklands in Belfast, where in 1896 Robert Thompson was made a partner in McArthur and Willis, tea importers and blenders. Robert Thompson originally entered the tea trade in 1887, and studied the art of tea tasting, soon becoming known for his uncomprimising devotion to quality. He led the company for 51 years before handing on the business to the second generation.
1940 As the 20th century progressed, the connection with the Thompson family was strengthened and in the post war years, brothers James and Tony Thompson became partners in the company. They were responsible for the birth of the Punjana brand and nurtured it until they retired in the 1980’s.
They coped well with the many challenges that the company encountered over their 40 year tenure, and even rose from the ashes when in 1973 a bomb, whose intended target was a neighbouring police station, completely destroyed their premises.
1949 James Thompson, when passing the Gillespie statue in Comber Square, Co. Down, Northern Ireland noticed an inscription relating to the 'Punjab'.
He thought that this could be the basis for a great brand name, as India was considered the home of good quality tea. His wife Lillias came up with the name - Punjana!
1950 Before tea bags were even dreamt of, loose tea was the order of the day. This first Punjana tea pack weighed in at a “quarter pound “ , cost 2 shillings and 6 pence, and its design was considered to be very modern and had terrific standout. I wonder if we should re-launch it and give it one more chance to shine!
1952 Around 1952 another change was to emerge, that of a centralised distribution and delivery system. This used company vans instead of the former method, via public buses !
Marie Rankin, who joined the company in 1953, was instrumental in the setting up of the Punjana distribution system.
Having received approval from Mr Tony Thompson for her proposals, systems were introduced which revolutionised the office, and Punjana´s delivery system was established.
Miss Rankin later became Company Secretary, was responsible for the company's accounts, and although now retired, we still are indebted to her for her considerable contribution to our company.
1975 1975 television advert featuring the famously, catchy Punjana jingle.
1980 Cousins Ross and David Thompson, the 3rd generation, continue to personally select and import all the company’s teas, much in the same way as has been done since the company was founded in 1896. Their passion to produce the “ Perfect Everyday Cuppa “ has sent the sales of their award winning pack soaring, and with Punjana’s recent expansion into the Speciality Tea sector, this family concern looks to the future with renewed optimism.
1985 Punjana were the first company in Northern Ireland to advertise on milk bottles. David and Ross Thompson are pictured with Milkman of the Year and the prize winning dairy cow at the Balmoral Show in Belfast. In 1990, one million milk bottles were brightened up with the Punjana Tea logo.
1990 Punjana Tea Box has another makeover in 1990.
1994 Television advertising campaign shot on location in Kenya.
1995 Punjana’s new state of the art tea blending and packing factory was officially opened by Minister for the Economy Baroness Denton in 1996, and featured on BBC’s Newsline programme.This purpose built factory was enhanced on the outside by a beautifully planted out garden, and the ultra hygienic inside, is home to the worlds’ fastest tea bag packing machine ! Ross and David Thompson pose proudly with the architect and project manager on opening day.
2000 A touch more colour gives Punjana added stand out!
2003 Punjana sponsors Scottish Television’s Weather breaks. David and Ross Thompson were able to cover all weather conditions, from scorching sun to freezing snow with their quirky tea brewing close-ups. The T.V. weather idents featured a V.W. Camper Van and the beautiful Scottish countryside as their only props.