improving local image
The Hayleys Group, more successful
overseas than in Sri Lanka, is undergoing a re-branding
process and giving its company logo a makeover, aimed
at improving and enhancing its local status and its
Its chairman Rajan Yatawara said they
have instituted progressive and forward thinking initiatives
such as a program for succession planning by enrolling
60 of his employees with the Indian School of Business
(ISB) to focus on the development and future of Hayleys.
"We are in the process of re-branding
exercises which should be complete in about April or
May of next year," he said in an interview. Hayleys
had a record turnover of nearly Rs. 25 billion, approximately
US$25 million, in the last financial year but turnover
could have increased by 15 – 20 % if not for the
appreciation of the rupee against the Euro and Sterling.
According to the company's financial review, profits
fell to Rs. 586 million from Rs.774 million in the previous
year. Yatawara stressed the need for proper control
of inflation and interest rates, saying “The government
has to control the currency."
Yatawara, who has been with the company
since 1966, spoke to The Sunday Times FT on new and
ongoing ventures of the company.
Since the mid 1970's, Hayleys has
been primarily engaged in value added manufacture for
import. In 1983, Hayleys embarked on its global expansion
by setting up companies in the United States. In 1986,
it moved to the United Kingdom to access the European
market and subsequently, to Australia.
Hayleys has also formed clusters in
which the various business sectors are able to share
information, knowledge and adopt best practices. Yatawara
explained that the business sectors which were organized
as vertical silos will now be interconnected with the
introduction of the clusters, resulting in improved
quality, standards, and overall efficiency of the various
sectors. The company is planning on managing logistics
for the newly constructed Brandix India Apparel city
in India. Yatawara said they already provide logistics
for MAS Holdings here in Sri Lanka but on a smaller
scale than the anticipated Brandix project.
He said the company has launched several
successful business ventures in the Maldives and are
looking to expand into other countries such as Laos
and Cambodia where opportunities are ripe. "We
have been more successful overseas that we have in Sri
Lanka," he said, adding that Sri Lanka is not large
enough to accommodate the company's growth.
Some other new ventures in the pipeline
are tissue culture projects such as special plants for
high germination and high tech western medicine. Hayleys
already has a highly successful and lucrative plant
germination operation where they export hybrid flower
seeds in collaboration with Syngenta Seeds BV of the
Netherlands. Yatawara explained that through cross pollination,
they are able to determine the exact colour of certain
flowers such as petunias which are exported. "The
size of the exports only fill about three shoe boxes
but are very high in value," he said. Rising rubber
prices over the past years has caused a problem for
Hayleys, being a value added manufacturer. Dipped Products
Ltd (DPL), a Hayleys subsidiary which manufactures rubber
gloves, has been affected by the high costs but Yatawara
feels the sitation is improving due to the recent decline
in prices. "Actually, the increase in rubber prices
helped our plantation sector," said Yatawara, referring
to Kelani Valley Plantations which produces a several
types of processed rubber, accounting for 4.5% of Sri
Lanka's overall rubber plantation. He highlighted Hayleys
semi-processed and processed vegetable sector which
includes the export of primarily gherkins, pickled gherkins
and other processed vegetables like silver skin onions,
chillies, bell peppers, relish and mixed vegetables.
Hayleys is the country's only exporter of gherkins and
employs about 5000 families in villages around the country.
The company supplies pickles to all of the McDonalds
franchises in Japan and has secured a 50% market share
in the country.