Business Times

Expolanka moves up the ladder to a corporate boardroom future

Soon to list on the Colombo Stock Exchange
By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

While any business, company or individual needs a great idea and the right way to market that idea, they also need to truly want success, which is what Expolanka Holdings Ltd was made of – the tenacity to achieve success.

Hanif Yusoof

It was in 1978, that five individuals started a business to export fresh produce that Expolanka was born. Now the group feels the time is ripe to open out its stock to the public. “The country’s economy was liberalised, so there was more opportunity. But we were just starting and it was tough,” Hanif Yusoof, Group CEO of Expolanka reminisced to the Business Times. He said there was a learning curve which was the hardest for these five entrepreneurs but they forged on, with trying times.

Gut feel and insight
He added that at most times it was a combination of left- and right-brain techniques, from analysis and experimentation to gut feel and insight during the first few years with the company becoming the largest fruits and vegetables exporter in the country. And, of course, planning is crucial. So many entrepreneurs have goals and ambitions, but not a plan and Mr. Yusoof reiterated that planning was a cornerstone of their business especially pertaining to the fresh produce business. “We don’t as a policy believe in short cuts to success. We have taken a long and winding road to achieve this and it’s worth it,” he added.

Resilient growth
Entering the corporate walk of fame through blood, sweat, tears, this group has now diversified into 12 different businesses - exports, imports and trading, freight forwarding and logistics, manufacturing, airline representation and operation, travels and tours and information technology over the years. “We have 49 companies in 11 countries and we’re present in 38 cities,” Mr. Yusoof said, adding that today, Expolanka is a market leader in some of these fields with strong international connections present in the region.

He attributes this success to customer service excellence, high business ethics and a committed workforce which made Expolanka triumph today. “We believe that sustaining these will build up resilient growth tomorrow. This sound philosophy has enhanced our excellent industry standing and reputation which continues to mature,” he added. He went on to say that it’s important to know when to delegate, and to be able to recognize the right time to do that.

“To push responsibility down in your organization, and to force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your staff is trying to tell you. The folks on the front-lines, the ones who actually talk to the customer are the only ones who really know what's going on out there and we swear by empowering, not overpowering,” he said explaining some of the success at Expolanka. He reiterated that business is about attitude and that it’s through this right attitude that an Rs 22 billion turnover company with 2900 direct employees managed to weave a success story.

Good legacy
Still a first generation business, it has seen a three decade growth and now the company is planning a restructuring for the second generation. “If this legacy is to continue, it has to be structured well. We always had organic growth and now we want to take the next step as we feel there’s a lot of growth potential for the businesses,” he reasoned.

As a start, Mr. Yusoof said that the company plans to go public. “We want to broadbase Expolanka’s ownership and already completed a sell down,” he said. He said that the company has done a private placement to the tune of 17% of its stock worth Rs 1.9 billion by some institutional investors. Watapota, which participated in this private placement by Expolanka, bought a stake around 2.5% while conglomerates such as John Keells Holdings and institutional investors such as Logan Rockefeller also participated.

Rs 2 billion IPO
Mr. Yusoof noted that this was done in a bid to gear up for the Initial Public Offering (IPO), restructure the debt in the companies while revving up for immediate growth in the core business. “We are hoping to raise about Rs 2 billion through the IPO and the total sell down (with the recent private placement) will be 25% of the company,” he said.

He said all firms, except their corrugated business, aviation and garments will not come into the IPO. He said that Expolanka is gearing to expand the freight forwarding business. “We’ll be eyeing acquisitions in freight forwarding as well,” he said. He said the company will apply to the Securities and Exchange Commission for sanctions to go for an IPO within the first half of this year.

When queried whether Expolanka will get into other businesses, prompt comes the reply, “We only want to do what we’re good at. We went into transportation as a requirement for our initial business – fresh produce. As such all the businesses we are in are a direct result of backward integration. We’ll continue to do that.”

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Other Business Times Articles
Disappointed Chinese investors return with another investment
Indian business baron on a 3-day holiday with wife, mother
PEO TV delays new installations
Wage battle soon in plantations
Sierra Cables to produce more ABC output against unviable copper
5-star hotel room rates $125 from April
Chaos continues at BOI; staff mulling ‘serious’ union action
Sri Pada pilgrims get relief from foot massage
Comment - Trouble brewing on plantations
Features - Professor Gishan Dissanaike: An emerging luminary in Economics from the University of Peradeniya
Features - More females than males in households:Govt survey
DFCC 3Q 10/11 group income reaches Rs. 13 bln
53% YoY 3Q 10/11 group net profit for Cargills, post 3 Coins, Kotmale
Hemas earnings up by 59.2%, strong growth from healthcare, transportation, leisure
Ceylon Oxygen to invest Rs 1.3 bln in new unit
Tourism, not an industry but glamour and hype, SLT head claims
AA, Asian Alliance in MoU for insurance needs
Rewarding transparency the ACCA way
Umbrella maker Rainco now into ‘Window ware and shade systems’
Features - Sri Lankan estate sector deprived of full budgetary allocations
Revenues up 45% YoY for Lankem-controlled CW Mackie
SEC’s rule on fast buck traders may be amended
Cessna aircraft makes its entry into the corporate world
Nestlé opens nominations for Rs 55 mln-worth 2012 Prize in ‘Creating Shared Value’
Focus - Broadband quality: We are there at last!
LOLC reduces borrowing costs thro’ access to long-term finance
Expolanka moves up the ladder to a corporate boardroom future
BOI jumps on ‘Wonder of Asia’ bandwagon, FDI target over $1 billion
Education issues at ST Business Club
WFP welcomes ECHO support to the flood-affected
Sri Lanka’s debt to GDP ratio at manageable levels
Sri Lankan Emeritus Prof. wins international award
Circumstances count more than attributes in investing
Sri Lanka could be a production house to India
EFC sets up HR network and launches website
Two chambers come together for mutual benefit
Microsoft Sri Lanka takes IT to 1,000 rural villages
Czech Republic to double trade volumes with Sri Lanka
Renuka posts 3Q10/11 consolidated revenue jump of 150% YoY
Man to watch: Giant strides by high networth investor Dr T. Senthiverl
Colombo prepares for mega seminar by Asian Branding Guru Martin Roll
Another $217 mln IMF tranche in April


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 1996 - 2011 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved | Site best viewed in IE ver 8.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution