Financial Times

New food products from Harischandra Mills amidst record sales

By Bandula Sirimanna

Harischandra Mills Ltd, while achieving the highest ever record in the sales of food products this year, plans to soon launch 100% red rice flour noodles, ulundu and rice flour papadam for the first time for local consumers.

Managing Director of Harischandra Mills S.N. Samarasinghe told The Sunday Times FT in an interview that these two quality food products will be introduced to the local market in keeping with their mission of providing the public with a variety of high quality foods. He disclosed that researchers at the Matara-based Harischandra Mills have come up with a major breakthrough to tackle the global food crisis – a rice-bread product after years of research. ‘Rice Bread’ is a form of wheat bread that is used commonly in the country, but incorporates rice flour instead of wheat flour. He said that the company hopes to introduce this technology to local bakers while making rice bread at its Matara bakery to cater to the consumers in the South .

Outlining the beginning of the company, he said that his late grandfather C.A. Harischandra founded this business and today he and some of his family members are managing it as the third generation which is a very rare achievement in the local business arena.

Even though he could have obtained a job with a high salary in the government service, C.A Harischandra returned to his village in Matara after graduating from the University of Colombo in 1938, to start a business venture on his own. Investing his entire fortune of Rs 500 on a rice mill he began a business which gradually became one of the premier food manufacturing companies in the island. He set up the Harischandra Mills Company in 1943 with an initial capital of Rs.25,000 on a land area of 20 perches and today after 65 years it’s factory complex with all modern machinery including fully automated packaging plant has expanded in a five acre site.

Mr Samarasinghe said that in keeping with his grandfather’s vision of providing high quality foods while preserving age-old traditions, the company has been maintaining the status of market leader in the sales of noodles, coffee, kurakkan flour, ulundu flour, and instant thosai mixture and it has a good market share in rice flour and laundry bar soap, blue washing soap and instant food products.
He disclosed that the company exceeded Rs. 1.2 billion in sales for the first time during the financial year 2007-2008. It has also increased profits by 87%, to Rs. 83 million. Mr. Samarasinghe said that this was the highest ever profit recorded in the company’s history. Food sales increased by 43% to exceed Rs 1 billion while the profits increased by 265% to Rs.63 million.

He said the business carried out by his grandfather was incorporated in Sri Lanka under the Companies Ordinance in 1953 and it was converted to a public company in 1959. It has allocated 40% of its shares to its employees in the same year. In 1983 the company was listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange. He revealed that the company has paid a dividend of Rs 22 per share for the 2007-2008 year.

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