14th January 2001
Front Page
Editorial/Opinion| Plus|
Sports| Mirror Magazine
The Sunday Times on the Web


  • Local fridges need state help - Singer
  • Big brands an indication of the Pizza market
  • To establish a training culture
  • Another record toppled, but trouble is brewing
  • Just another ISP?
  • Lanka's leap in technology
  • OSC announces new scholarship programme
  • VNU merge with ACNielsen
  • IE Technics goes into e-commerce
  • Ambuja commissions concrete laboratory
  • TNT International Mailfast at its peak

    Local fridges need state help - Singer

    Singer, Sri Lanka's top consumer durable company, is hoping that government authorities would cut duties on raw material imports for the local refrigeration industry, saying high duties is a deterrent to expansion particularly in reaching out to foreign markets.

    "High import duty on imported components is a major obstacle towards expanding the industry," says company chairman Hemaka Amarasuriya.

    Singer, who manufactures and imports a range of household appliances, last month acquired the reputed Sisil brand of refrigerators in a deal that is certain to raise its share of the local market to more than 50 %.

    The company said zero duty for compressors, steel sheets and other refrigerator components, would help it compete more efficiently with foreign brands and pave the way for locally-made refrigerators to be competitive in regional markets. Singer is considering moving into the export market for refrigerators if prospects are good.

    Mr. Amarasuriya told The Sunday Times Business that Sri Lanka is the first country in the region to introduce CFC-free refrigerators. "We have the potential to expand our local brands to the regional markets because of their higher quality. However, the invisible tariff barriers will remain a obstacle", he said.

    The market for consumer durables in Sri Lanka has been growing rapidly, mainly due to rural electrification and the availability of credit schemes. Currently there is a market for 100,000 refrigerator units in Sri Lanka and Singer dominates the market with a 38% market share.

    Since the early 1960's to mid 1980's, Sisil has dominated the local market - helped by state protection of local industries. However the liberalisation of the markets in late 1970's saw Sisil gradually losing its market share to foreign brands. At the time of the acquisition Sisil held 12% of the refrigerator market.

    Singer's decision to acquire Sisil has been mainly influenced by the brand loyalty of Sisil's customer base. Market research has shown that Sisil is the most respected local refrigerator brand, which has created a significant impact with their legendary R 60's and R 80's on mature customers. "Our job will be to attract the younger generation to buy Sisil," said Asita Abayasekera, Singer's deputy marketing director.

    Big brands an indication of the Pizza market

    "Big brands are here and their growth gives an indication of the market", said Mr. Hari Bhartia, co-chairman of Domino's Pizza India Ltd during a visit to Sri Lanka last week. Domino's Pizza, a global name in pizza delivery service, held its launch proper at its six fully fledged stores on Friday.

    Domino's Pizza India Ltd is also the owner of the franchise for Nepal and Sri Lanka and Mr Bhartia told the Sunday Times Business that there were good opportunities to create the best pizza delivery company in the country.

    Asked whether there was a market for pizza delivery, Mr. Bhartia said that pizza is already a familiar food in Sri Lanka and that local flavours could be conveniently introduced to suit the South Asian palate. Initially the deep pan, thin crust and the hand tossed pizza's will be available at the local stores.

    Domino says that their method of preparation is different while and their pricing would be aggressive and comparable to other popular names. The local operation would be run by Sri Lankan staff trained by staff from the other international operations, while the sourcing of ingredients too would be mostly local.

    Domino's Pizza India Limited proposes to invest a total of Rs. 120 million in the Sri Lankan operation. The initial stores of DP Lanka (Pvt) Limited are located at the Cargills Food City outlets at Mount Lavinia, Staple Street, Fort, Majestic City, Rajagiriya and Millennium Park.

    First Capital - Money Market

    The inter-bank call money market and the overnight repo market

    During the short week ended 11Th January, the liquidity shortfall in the inter-bank money market saw a marginal decline of Rs.2~3Bn, to close at the region of Rs. 29Bn~30Bn. The cash in circulation, which reached approximately Rs. 75Bn, is likely to lessen to Rs. 69Bn level over near future. The pressure on the inter-bank money market was eased to a certain extent probably due to availability of securities to borrow from the reverse repo widow, and the call money rate was dropped to 20%.~22%. The weekly call money average shed by approximately 250 basis points over the previous week to close at 21.44%. The one month term money continued to quote at 21%~23%.

    The unchanged Central Bank's reverse repo window rate of 20% remained as the ceiling of the repo market.

    Central Bank open market operation

    The Central Bank open market operations, repo and reverse repo rates remained unchanged at 17% and 20% respectively. Once again the liquidity shortfall of the money market was mostly funded by the Central Bank's reverse repo window. During week the reverse repo window released Rs. 118.4Bn, averaging Rs. 29.6Bn a day. We are of the opinion that the reverse repo window will remain as the main lender in the market and to set the direction for market repo rate and the call money rate, until the existence of the liquidity shortfall.

    Treasury bill .

    In the second auction for the year 2001, the Government of Sri Lanka renewed Rs. 4299Mn worth of treasury bills. The declining trend in the interests backed by the renewed investor sentiments, reversed during the week, as the economic fundamentals did not support a down trend. Therefore, though the auction was well subscribed, the yields of all categories surged. The auction was oversubscribed by approxi-mately 200%.

    As the investors were keen to get into 364 days category, 66% of the bids received were for the same. Hence, the Central Bank accepted more in that category, while reducing on others.

    Treasury bond

    Though Rs. 3000Mn worth of 2-year bonds were offered in the auction held during the week, the Central Bank did not accept any of the bids. However, in the secondary market the bond yields turned upward. The unimproved economic fundamentals reversed the renewed buying interest that was prevailing for last few weeks. The two years bond were quoted at 18.5%'19.0%.

    Foreign Exchange -

    Dollar Movement

    On the week ending Friday 12th, the Central Bank further expanded the dollar rupee-trading band by 2%, to close at 10%. The Central Bank buying and selling rates were at Rs. 77.2750 and Rs. 85.0025 respectively. With the lowering of inter-bank interest rates, a gradual rise was witnessed in the market spot rate. Just before the change in the band the Spot was at Rs. 83.40~ Rs. 83.42, the week before it was at Rs. 82.98~Rs.83.15. However, soon after the band widening the spot was quoted at Rs. 84.70~Rs.84.80. Three months forward was quoted at Rs 88.20 to Rs. 88.50 and the six months forward was quoted at Rs. 91.00 to Rs 91.50.

    T Bill auction

    91 Days 182 Days 364 Days

    Last Week 17.78 17.88 17.95

    This Week 17.96 18.02 18.32

    Change 0.22% 0.14% 0.37%

    To establish a training culture

    By Akhry Ameer

    "Sri Lanka needs to be more aware of training needs," said Armyne Wirasinghe, Chairman of Skills Development Fund Limited (SDF) at a media forum last week.

    The development fund was established as a joint investment between the government and the private sector to train and upgrade skills of employees of organizations.

    Earle Fernando, a Director of the fund who served with the International Labour Organization (ILO) for many years, was of the view that Sri Lanka has a very big asset in its human resources with learning skills being very high compared to other countries in the region like Thailand and Vietnam. He said that littleá investment is being driven into this area and that companies need to invest in training staff.

    Presentations were also made by some organizations on their experiences gained from training staff. Mr. Jayampathy Molligoda, Director (Special Projects and Human Resources), Bogawanthalawa Plantations said that by training their rubber tappers, the productivity had increased from 6kg per day per tapper to an average of 7.5kg per day.

    Explaining the process carried out by the Skills Development Fund staff, he said an initial Training Needs Analysis (TNA)was carried out. From the TNA a programme was implemented to train trainers identified amongst the tappers.

    This identification helps to harness the classified 'A' grade tappers' explicit and tacit knowledge to be passed on to the other workers.

    The Skills Development Fund was established in August 1999 with a Rs. 100 million share capital from the government and Rs. 2 million from the private sector after concept testing through ILO funding.

    Since its inception over 50 companies have engaged the services of SDF which offers a total solution by identifying problems and formulating training to match their needs, as opposed to predefined training programmes. In order to handle various industry training needs, SDF has a resource pool of over 170 registered local and foreign professionals.

    SDF also plans to conduct training programmes in collaboration with leading international institutes and universities.

    Tea Update

    Another record toppled, but trouble is brewing

    With the cost of living index inching its way to new heights, officials fear that plantation workers might ask for another wage hike. Last year alone, the industry witnessed a number of strikes, of which the prayer campaign initiated in June and carried out for almost ten days caught the media's attention the most. Another increase in wages in the wake of the New Year could be detrimental to the plantations profitability despite attractive prices at the auctions as they too have to face the brunt of recent fuel price hikes.

    Officials said that diesel and especially kerosene was widely used in the estates on a daily basis for transportation and cooking. Hence they believe that the hikes would lead to another wage hike plea, the first for 2001.

    Meanwhile, John Keells Limited reported that the western plains of Sri Lanka enjoyed a plentiful harvest in December. The brokers fear that since Kenya too witnessed similar conditions in December, an oversupply situation would possibly weaken the prices of plainer teas at the upcoming auctions. At the auctions, last year's star performer, low grown teas, continued its glorious streak into the New Year with another record. Last week's auctions too witnessed favourable demand for low growns and brokers expect this trend to continue.

    Most other varieties too managed to obtain favourable prices.

    Just another ISP?

    Dialog GSM joined the ISP bandwagon recently, with the launch of their 'i' service.

    The internet service hailed by Dialog officials as the technology of the future - today, promises adequate internet bandwidth to all its customers for faster connections. However, this claim has been made before and we still are looking forward for the day when we could surf at warp speed.

    Head of Marketing and Sales, Nushard Perera dispelling this criticism said that they could deliver on their promise as they have levered the strengths of their parent company Telecom Malaysia, to establish direct links with Malaysia'a Cyberjaya Internet Hub. He added that the ISP's efficiency is backed by connections to the Multimedia Super Corridor with wider access to the Internet Cloud and superior backbone speeds.

    Dialog also promises versatile connectivity through a large modem pool accessible from any fixed line network or a mobile device at speeds of up to 9600 bps.

    Other options Dialog offers include a multi-mode email as a standard option and free mobile email address to fixed phone users.

    Another promise made by the new entrant to the ISP market is economical rates, with packages suited to low, medium and high users starting at Rs. 250 per month.

    Dialog will be utilizing its distributor network to offer the service throughout its coverage areas.

    Lanka's leap in technology

    Faxes, PABXes, internet, e-mail, net telephony, ISDN... what more? Video multi conferencing. The most recent technology leap saw apparel industry giant, MAST Lanka plunge into the future of communication with their investment in the MGC 100, a video multi conferencing system that would enable up to 96 users to connect and have 36 simultaneous conferences. The system that supports multiple platforms (different protocols such as ISDN, IP and ATM) will enable users to communicate regardless of the technology protocol they use. In addition, the system also enables users with different data speeds to connect to the system without slowing down the process too much.

    Meanwhile, other features such as the voice activation function that automatically brings the speaker into focus and the flexibility of connecting to a video conference with only a cellular phone makes the MGC 100 the most advanced conferencing system available in Sri Lanka.

    Speaking to the press- Metropolitan Communications Ltd., GM, Anil Gunawardena said that such an advanced system with its flexibility would ensure high quality video conferencing which is a serious business tool.

    In terms of the apparel manufacturer, this would mean saving on costly visits to various locations and time constraints involved in bringing together all the resource people under one roof.

    It is a pleasure to see companies are taking bold leaps into technological advances despite rave reviews and continued complaints made against rising costs.

    The system was installed by Metropolitan Communications in collaboration with Suntel Pvt Ltd. The investment in the project is estimated at Rs. 15 million.

    OSC announces new scholarship programme

    The Head of the Overseas School of Colombo, Peter Gittins, announced recently that the school would be offering a number of scholarships for Grade 9 students seeking entry into the school's International General Certificate of Secondary Education programme in August 2001.

    The IGCSE is a programme of studies for students in Grades 9 and 10 administered by the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate. This syndicate is one of the leading authorities on educational assessment with schools and colleges acting on its behalf in more than one hundred countries.

    The IGCSE is equivalent to the GCSE and British 'O' levels. It is a stimulating and academically rigorous programme and prepares students in the skills required for the more advanced academic study programmes such as the International Baccalaureate and 'A' levels which are taken in Grades 11 and 12.

    In announcing details of the programme, Mr. Gittins stated that the scholarships were geared towards high achieving Sri Lankan nationals who were in the process of completing Year 9 of their schooling. The scholarships on offer were partial scholarships valued at USD $ 7,350 per annum and Mr. Gittins expected that the demand for places would be strong.

    VNU merge with ACNielsen

    Dutch publishing company VNU has entered into a definitive merger agreement with ACNielsen, under which VNU will acquire ACNielsen in an all cash transaction of US$ 36.75 per share, representing a transaction value of US$ 2.3 billion.

    VNU is one of the world's leading Marketing and Media information companies and has leading positions in consumer magazines, directories, and information services. Currently VNU employs over 16,000 people and is in a strong position in the USA and Europe with annual revenues of more than US$ 2.8 billion. VNU holds controlling interest in one of Sri Lanka's leading market research companies ORG-MARG SMART (Pvt) Ltd.

    ACNielsen is claimed to be the largest agency in the world serving information needs of large multinational clients in six continents (over 100 countries). It provides clients with market research, information and analysis to the consumer products and services industries. ACNielsen's biggest and most reputed products worldwide are the Retail Store Audit and the Nielsen Ratings for TV audience measurement.

    IE Technics goes into e-commerce

    IE Technics, Sri Lanka's pioneer electronic manufacturer and exporter, does the Country proud by launching Not only is this Sri Lanka's first site that can claim to be a true e-commerce site, but it is also the first real integrated e-business in Sri Lanka.

    IE Technics manufactures and markets internationally a range of electronic equipment from power protection products such as voltage stabilizers and UPS Systems to TV/Communication antennae, and IT products. The Company and its products have been the recipients of numerous awards. This web site will enable the Company's customers from Western Europe to East Asia to purchase on-line. Prices are quoted in Sri Lankan Rupees, US Dollars as well as Euros and Credit card payments are processed instantly using the most advanced techniques and security systems available today

    "Security and confidentiality are some of the key issues amongst users of e-commerce sites. IE have gone to great lengths to ensure these", said Mr. Sanjeeva Cooray, Director of IE Technics.

    Commenting on his experience as a pioneer in e-commerce, Sanjeeva said that they have been trying for the past two years to make this happen - and finally Sri Lanka's leading e-business integrator, Affno came to their rescue and made their dream a reality.

    "The site has been designed for making a purchase as fast and as secure as possible with the whole emphasis on functionality", said Suren Kannangara, CEO of Affno. But there's much more than meets the eye. I E's whole business model has been re-vamped for e-business. Thus procurement, production, order processing and delivery are all integrated to support timely and accurate order fulfillment and to enhance the customers' on-line shopping experience. Logistics and delivery in particular have been addressed in detail to fulfil orders from any part of the world in the fastest and most economical manner.

    Ambuja commissions concrete laboratory

    Ambuja Cements commissioned Sri Lanka's first ever customer service laboratory for the testing of cement and concrete at Peliyagoda recently. The laboratory which was built at a cost of Rs. 3.5 million is the first and only customer service laboratory of its kind and is unique to Sri Lanka.

    Chief Guest Mr. Mervin Gunasekere praised Ambuja's initiative in having built this laboratory which will be of service to the country's entire construction industry. The services offered include testing of concrete, concrete mixed designs, testing of cement blocks as well as aggregate testing. All services would be made available free of charge to Ambuja customers, while Technical Services Manager Jayantha Bandara will be available once a week for advice and counselling to home builders on the correct usage of cement and mixing of concrete.

    TNT International Mailfast at its peak

    The most unique of TNT International services in Sri Lanka is Mailfast, the international mailing service. Mailfast is a much sought after service in Sri Lanka. Specially during the festive season, Mailfast operates at its peak. Making sure your international mail is delivered on time can be a real problem at this busy time of the year. One way to ensure that all your international mail arrives on time and intact is to send it with Mailfast. Mailfast guarantees to get your post to its destination on time. Whether you are sending Christmas cards, Calendars or even everyday Business Correspondence, Mailfast will deliver where it's needed, when it's needed.

    Company News

  • ICBT to conduct Australian diplomas
  • Walls treat for Galle
  • PolyLanka makes a breakthrough in tea
  • Yellow Pages to go solo
  • Hayleys to sell XANT_
  • Union Oasis Health Plan to pay the bills
  • Cathay wins gold here

    ICBT to conduct Australian diplomas

    International College of Business and Technology (ICBT) recently signed an agreement with the government of South Australia to hold the TAFE Diploma Programme on behalf of the International Educational Services, Department of Education, Training and Employment of the government of South Australia.

    Sri Lankan students can thus now follow an Australian diploma programme in Sri Lanka for half the cost they would incur if they were to study in Australia. Moreover the ICBT students will receive the Australian certificate and also be eligible to apply directly for jobs in Australia.

    Maximum benefits are also offered to students following this diploma from the University of South Australia and from the University of Adelaide with whom the ICBT has direct links. The transfer of credits could be however, negotiated with any Australian university.

    ICBT's Course Director Lalitha Munasinghe says that Australian trained lecturers with wide experience would conduct the course for students here. On completion of the course students could go on to complete a degree in one and a half years.

    Walls treat for Galle

    Wall's Ice Cream, a division of Unilever Ceylon Ltd, is expanding its operations in Sri Lanka with the opening of a distribution centre in Galle.

    "The year 2000 proved to be a very successful one for us with the launch of an extendedrangeas well as Popsicle and delicious ice creams in cups and extended cones" said Rlph de Jong National Sales and Distribution Manager.

    "Our aim is to make Wall's Sri Lanka's favourite ice cream, available island-wide. We want Wall's to be available in shops, restaurants, hotels and of course on our tricycles," said Richard Best, company's general manager. "The opening of the Galle store is in line with our rollout plans and I am sure Sri Lankans who live in the South will be delighted with our move".

    Wall's will launch a new and innovative range of Popsicle and cup products this month.

    PolyLanka makes a breakthrough in tea

    Polylanka (Pvt) Ltd says it has pioneered an energy management system for the tea manufacturing industry.

    The system is currently being tested at the Deanside tea factory in Gampola and boasts a power saving capability of 65%-75%. This is expected to reduce the manufacturing cost of tea by an estimated Rs 1 per Kg.

    The company says it has developed the system for two different functions; one for the large tea rollers and one for tea withering troughs of 75-120 foot length.

    The system incorporates latest state of the art computer and electronic technology. The power saving is mainly achieved by controlling the speed of the blowers used in the withering process and controlling the rotation speed of the tea rollers. This is achieved by an independently cooled control panel which includes built-in safety features, to guard against power overloads and phase failures.

    Polylanka claims this system would reduce the heat build-up in the withering process.

    "It will also enable the withering to be done at a slower pace during the day time and allowing the rolling process to start early in the morning. This is especially expected to benefit tea factories of higher altitudes where rolling is done early in the morning to obtain the maximum quality," the Chairman of Polylanka, Kiyaz Deen speaking to the Sunday Times Business said.

    "This pioneering venture involved the expertise of many high calibre mechanical and electronic engineers. Especially Roshan Wickremarachchi an engineer of vast experience both here and abroad made a significant contribution" he said.

    This is regarded as the first major change to the tea rolling systems and the withering systems since they were introduced by the British almost 50 years ago.

    Yellow Pages to go solo

    The Yellow Pages, the most comprehensive database on products and services in Sri Lanka, began its sales canvass for 2002 last week, offering existing and potential advertisers an opportunity of an early entry in to its new-look edition, Directories Lanka (Pvt) Ltd (DLPL), publisher of the directory said in a press release.

    For the first time in Sri Lanka, the Yellow Pages have been floated out of the main directory this year, into a separately positioned and independently branded 680-page volume comprising of 1700 classifications and more than 22,000 listings."User convenience was the key criterion for this decision, a spokesman for DLPL said. "Had the Yellow Pages been bound together with the White Pages, the 2001 directory would have weighed 3.5 kilograms, making it unwieldy to handle."

    The new Yellow Pages will commencing this month offer "early bird" discounts and special discounts to all advertisers who sign up early for the 2002 edition, the spokesman said. An important feature will be the inclusion, if required, of numbers of Wireless Loop phones (Suntel and Lanka Bell), mobile phones and e-mail/website addresses. As in the past two years, advertisers will be offered colour (Red) advertising. The Yellow Pages information is also available to all Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) enabled mobile phones and via the web at providing advertisers a value-added benefit of greater local and international exposure at no extra cost.

    Hayleys to sell XANT_

    Hayleys Photoprint Limited (HPL) has been appointed sole agent in Sri Lanka for XANT... printing and prepress products for graphic artists, prepress and desktop publishing professionals, the company said.

    The new range of products marketed by HPL consequent to this appointment would include positive and negative toner based film output machines, plate makers which enable computer-to-plate technology at an affordable price exclusively for the graphic arts industry.

    XANT... Corporation's Sales Manager for South East Asia Chamath Tennakoon said graphic professionals will now have access to the latest machinery at very affordable prices with after sales service of international service standards.

    XANT... Corporation was formed in 1989 to create innovative, leading-edge technology for graphic art professionals.

    Union Oasis Health Plan to pay the bills

    Union Assurance Ltd., (UAL) has launched the Union Oasis Health Plan (UOHP), a unique medical insurance policy based on an exclusive agreement with Oasis Hospitals, Colombo's newest private hospital, the insurance company said in a statement.

    UOHP is an annual medical insurance policy that provides policyholders with a range of benefits coupled with the quality care of Oasis Hospitals.

    It is the only health plan that enables the policyholder to go back home to recuperate, leaving his bill behind for UAL to settle. For the remarkably inexpensive annual premium payment of Rs. 2,000 plus taxes, he is entitled to medical benefits upto as much as Rs. 50,000.

    "What we are aiming at is to provide quality health facilities for the needy, because Rs. 2,000 is affordable for everybody," explained Dr. E.M.S. Edirisinghe, President, Oasis Hospitals Pvt., Ltd.

    Unlike in other medical policies, there is no long-drawn out claims procedure, as the UOHP does away completely with the need to settle hospital bills prior to claiming reimbursement from the insurance company. UAL will pay hospital expenses direct to Oasis Hospitals on submission of bills. There is the added benefit of the policyholder being able to know in advance the exact cost of medical care for certain ailments or surgeries, plus, he receives priority treatment from Oasis Hospitals, which includes expert medical advice and attention.

    "We are very excited about this new product. For one thing, it takes the hassle away from the policyholder/patient when it comes to settling bills. More importantly, the pricing of this product is very attractive and constitutes a step in the right direction of realising our main objective, which is to bring down the cost of medical care to the general public," said Sarath Wickramanayake, CEO, UAL.

    Cathay wins gold here

    Cathay Pacific Airways Colombo has received the Bronze award for the port with the third highest revenue growth in the entire Cathay Pacific Network for the year 1999/2000. Along with this comes the Gold Award for Colombo on achieving the highest revenue growth in the South East Asian region.

    "The revenue growth achieved is 43.9% this year" said Manori Jayasekera, Manager, Sales and Marketing, Cathay Pacific Airways in a statement by the company.

    She said that with Colombo being such a price sensitive and controlled market fares the port's yield growth has been ranked 5th in the region. "We don't have the flexibility of selling seasonal fares which generally help this end of the scale," the company release said.

    Until October 2000, Cathay Pacific operated an Airbus A330 =300 aircraft to Colombo but from November changed to a Boeing 777-300.

    Cathay Pacific. Colombo has also been placed first in the region for its "On Time Performance", with the airline having faced only 65 delays of approximately 5to 10 minutes during 1999.

    "This however, has not affected the actual time of arrival in Bangkok since the tail wind factor always allows the pilot to catch up on the flying time," said K. Premkumar, Airport Service Manager.

  • Index Page
    Front Page
    Mirrror Magazine

    More Business

    Return to Business Contents


    Business Archives

    Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business| Sports| Mirror Magazine

    Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to 

    The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

    Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.
    Hosted By LAcNet