First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


November 18, 2007  Volume 14, Issue 22










Pure Ceylon Tea -  cleanest  in the world

Ten years ago the value added component on tea exports was 48% but today it has dropped to 36.2%. To drive the value added tea industry up the Industrial Development Board has teamed up with the Sri Lanka Tea Board where an innovative solution has been launched by way of pooling funds, and Rs.70 million was raised for the purchase of  a liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer  that can check quality of tea for ingredients, flavours and chemical residue including pesticides so that Sri Lanka can increase the credibility of Pure Ceylon Tea and thereby enter markets that are stringent on quality.

The Chairman, Tea Advisory Committee, Industrial Development Board, Rohantha Athukorala said that with this initiative Sri Lanka can now position our teas to be the 'Cleanest Tea in the World and become the Tea Nation of the world."

The latest production data released by the Sri Lanka Tea Board reveals that production has dropped by 18.6 million kgs as at end September 2007 to 219.43 million kgs of tea as against the last year volume of 238.11 kgs of tea in the corresponding period. There are many reasons for the drop in production. The plantation 'go slow' and strike experienced in the last quarter of 2006 and the 1st quarter of 2007, followed by the adverse weather delayed bringing the tea into full bearing. Further, the high cost of fertiliser resulted in the lower application which further effected production.

Urea subsidy

On the impact of the revision of the urea subsidy last year an analysis revealed that a 5% drop in fertilizser will result in a revenue loss of Rs.2.8 billion and a volume drop of 12 million kgs of tea. This can explain the drop in production of the 18 million kgs of tea this year as at end September. What is worrying is that production in the month of September that was only 25.3 million kgs is well below last year's number of 28 million kgs. High growns declined to a 10 year low of 4.5 million kgs which is the lowest since the year of the El-Nino in 1996 where 4.4 million kgs were produced. The current estimate is that Sri Lanka will end the year at 305 million kgs of tea.This would means that we will be below last year's figure of 317 million kgs of tea which was an all time record for Sri Lanka.

Value addition and differentiation

Sri Lanka must invest on value addition rather than exporting in bulk said Athukorala. Research must be conducted to understand which value that best differentiate Sri Lankan tea. Some of the propositions that Sri Lanka can concept test are;  Sri Lanka - Tea for Quality, Sri Lanka Tea for Cleanest Tea, Sri Lanka Tea - for Hygiene, Sri Lanka Tea - for Health, Sri Lanka Tea - for real taste of Tea.Once the concept has been tested in each of the countries and in the potential markets like Tanzania, Malawi, France, Austria, Belgium, Bangladesh and some other key countries, the winning idea can be given to the marketers of tea (exporters) so that branding and packaging can be developed accordingly. Sri Lanka must develop 10 brands of tea with the support of the government so that just like Dilma and Mlesna others will have a strategy of building brands based on research in markets and then letting the private sector take the lead for commercialisation based on value addition. The industry has  to make value added teas of 70% of the exports so that it can get the best for the country on the limited production base.

Branding and promotions

"We need to have a stronger thrust on this side. A strategy that can be pursued is "Ethically Produced" platform which will be in line with the garment industry positioning launched globally, recently, on the "Garment without guilt" positioning. This positioning can help Sri Lanka claim a premium in the global market place - maybe to move to dollars 10 per kg from the current 4 dollars. 

"On the branding promotions we need to have a wholistic perspective," Athukorale said.

Commercial Bank posts strong growth

A characteristically robust performance in the 3rd quarter of the current year has enabled the Commercial Bank Group to post noteworthy improvements in all key indicators and achieve strong profit growth for the nine months ending September 30, 2007.

˙In results released to the Colombo Stock Exchange this week, the group comprising Sri Lanka's benchmark private sector bank, associates and subsidiaries has reported a pre-tax profit of Rs. 5.32 billion at the end of the 3rd quarter, a growth of Rs. 1.3 billion or 32.43% over the first nine months of last year.

˙Profit after tax for the period at Rs.3.28 billion reflected an even stronger growth of 39.35% or Rs. 925.6 million, on a group turnover of Rs. 25.5 billion which was up Rs. 8.5 billion or 50%.

˙On the basis of these results, the Board of Directors of the bank have declared a second interim dividend of Rs.1.50 per share which will be paid by the end of November. Earlier this year, the bank declared a dividend of Rs. 1.50 per share.

˙According to Commercial Bank's Senior Deputy General Manager - Finance and Planning, Ranjith Samaranayake profit growth was facilitated by an increase of Rs. 3.10 billion or 57.24%  in the group's net interest income from Rs. 5.42 billion to Rs. 8.53 billion in the period under review. This was achieved with better management of interest margins in volatile market conditions, and adequate balance sheet growth in this period, he said.

Anandaraj heads  Serendib Leisure

S.Anandaraj, director operations of Serendib Leisure Hotels has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Serendib Leisure with effect from October 1, 2007.

Anandaraj is a senior hotelier counting over  25 years of experience in the hotel industry. He started his hotel career with the Confifi Group of Hotels where he rose up the ranks from management trainee to manage Club Palm Garden Hotel as general manager and subsequently was posted as general manager of Riverina Hotel. He then joined Galle Face Hotel as general manager and served there for one year.

Towards mid 2003 he joined as director operations, being responsible for overall operations of all hotels under the Serendib Leisure umbrella.

He is a corporate member of the Institute of Hospitality, London [formerly known as HCIMA] and the Institute of Management, London.

He also held the post of president of the Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association 2006/07.

SLML owns and manages three well known hotels - Club Hotel Dolphin, Hotel Serendib and Hotel Sigiriya.

Seylan profits grow

Seylan Bank PLC's unaudited financials for the 3rd quarter 2007 indicated a pre-tax profit of Rs.1,312.01 mn achieving a notable growth of 39.27% in comparison to the previous year's 3rd quarter.  The bank's net profit after tax also grew to Rs. 794.44 mn, up by 26.69% over the comparable period's profit of Rs.627.08 mn in 2006.

Similarly, pre-tax profits of the Seylan Group which comprises subsidiaries Seylan Merchant Bank Ltd., Ceylinco Seylan Development Ltd., and Seylan Bank Asset Management Ltd., has also witnessed a notable boost of 34.98% reaching Rs.1,382.42 mn in the 3rd quarter of 2007.  Further the group's net profit after tax and minority interest improved from the previous year to Rs.821.94 mn, registering a 24.38% increase.

The bank's improved profitability is attributed to an improvement in its traditional  key revenue lines being net interest income (up 13.03%) and foreign exchange income (up 18.52%). Profitability was further boosted by other income increasing 36.01% over the comparable period in 2006 due to gains on disposal of identified assets.   

Additionally, the bank through effective strategies recouped substantial writtenbacks on Bad & Doubtful Debts of Rs.450.54 mn thereby boosting profitability. This was in spite of new regulations imposed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in December 2006 on general provisioning for which Rs.224.86 mn was made at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2007.

The bank achieved this net profit after tax despite the negative impact of the two tiered taxation of VAT on financial services and corporate taxes had on its profits.  Both VAT and corporate taxes totalled Rs.980.39 mn accounting for 55.23% of operating profit before taxes including VAT on financial services.

The deposits and advances of the bank registered a growth level of 7.10% and 6.84% respectively for the nine months ending 30th September 2007, a reflection of the healthy performance by the 3rd quarter 2007.

Seylan Bank has been in the forefront of providing customer convenience to carefully identified segments.

During the quarter, the bank launched the highly popular "Rajina" Account for women.  "Rajina" account holders are entitled to a premium rate of interest on their investments, benefits under Merit Rewards, a branded Credit Card and special loan facilities.

The Bank also introduced the "2 in 1" Account (Automated Investment Manager)  which effectively couples the best of both worlds - i.e. of Current Accounts and Savings Accounts for the account holder.

"Tikiri" Account holders were given an unmatched opportunity in a mega promotion with a draw whereby 25 lucky kids along with a parent or guardian would be entitled to a trip to Disneyland in Hong Kong.

Also involved in the promotion was the child prodigy, Sarala Kariyawasam who appeared in the award winning movie Water and is the Brand Ambassador for "Tikiri" Accounts.

Seylan Bank's 114 branch network provides special counters to service Ceylinco FastCash recipients.  It's branches also provide extended banking hours during week days and Saturday or Sunday along with other banking related services to facilitate Ceylinco FastCash remittances.

Leveraging the best that technology could offer, Seylan Bank took banking to the doorstep by empowering its business development officers with real-time connectivity and Palm Top Banking equipped with a Personal Digital Assistant.  Business development officers now conduct banking functions from remote locations in selected areas, as per the vision of Chairman, Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala.

Ceylinco introduces VIP 3-In- One with fantastic new benefits

Ceylinco VIP On The Spot, the revolutionary concept which galvanised the sphere of motor insurance the world over in 2003, introduced three more spectacular new benefits recently, as Ceylinco VIP On The Spot 3 In One.

Ceylinco VIP On The Spot 3 In One, introduced as yet another revolutionary innovation by Ceylinco Insurance to their loyal customers, provides three unique benefits to customers who sign on with them for a period of three years. Accordingly, customers who sign up with Ceylinco for three years, will get: the No Claim Bonus, regardless of any claims, while the insured value of the vehicle is enhanced by 10% every year, and in the event of a repair exceeding 30 days, up to two leasing instalments will be paid. And to add icing on the cake, all these benefits come in addition to all the regular VIP benefits, while the premium remains absolutely the same and can be paid annually.

VIP customers will still continue to enjoy the wide range of unsurpassed benefits they have always enjoyed, which include the revolutionary On The Spot claim settlements, a similar replacement vehicle, 24-hour/365-day roadside assistance, plastic surgery cover for ladies, insurance covers for passengers etc.

Addressing a media conference, announcing the launch of VIP 3 In One, Ajith Gunewardena, Chief Executive Director of Ceylinco Insurance General Division, indicated that they always strived to live up to the promise of constantly providing the best for their customers, while continuing to innovate. He added that Ceylinco VIP On The Spot 3 IN ONE was still the only motor insurance that was geared to settle any claim, anywhere in the island, On The Spot, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. He went on to say that the people of Sri Lanka believed in Ceylinco because they have always delivered on promises, and that living up to the promise was their credo, while adding that, as a result, Ceylinco VIP was destined to lead, while others simply followed.

A spokesman for Ceylinco Insurance also indicated that they were very excited about the new benefits, as it provided a stupendous reward for existing customers, while simultaneously providing tremendous incentive for future customers.

NDB Bank extends its services to Boralesgamuwa

Residents in the fast developing Boralesgamuwa area are now able to enjoy the facilities offered by NDB Bank, the world class Sri Lankan bank. NDB Bank’s network offers a wide range of services to choose from, particularly with recent additions to the Bank’s extensive product portfolio. NDB Bank is rated "AA" (Sri Lanka) by Fitch Rating Lanka Ltd, for its strong financial profile, conservative and prudent policies, sound asset quality, above average risk management and well-capitalized position.

G2S Notebook offers true-to-life mobile gaming

ASUSTeK Computer Inc. (ASUS), a leading provider of high-performance notebook computers, announced its notebook designed for mobile gamers. Based on the latest Intel Centrino Duo Mobile Technology with advanced graphic solutions, the G2S Notebook revolutionizes the way games are played with blistering speed and true-to-life video and audio performances - on the go! Group Product Manager, EPSI Computers, Mr. Sankha Jayaratne authorized distributors for ASUS in Sri Lanka, stated that the 17" notebooks have design details incorporated to elevate the overall experience, including an OLED instant display, side/front speakers, hotkey highlights as well as sidelights. He also said that the LCD cover with special in-mold decoration design not only gives the notebook an instant game machine identity that simply stands out from the generic notebook design but it also makes the surface more resistant from paint chipping off. Further, he added that the full-sized keyboard makes mobile gaming ergonomically comfortable while the W, A, S and D keys are especially marked with color squares to match the rest of the notebook color scheme for convenient access at one glance.

Another super feature here is that the the ASUS Direct Messenger display instant messages, system status and reminder alerts with zero distraction to accommodate full screen game mode. Giving the user uninterrupted free live information update.

Further, the the Power 4gear+ management feature extends battery life up to 20-25%, providing a reliable and continuous operation of power.

Another value added feature is the integration of " ASUS Splendid Video Intelligence Technology " integrating different multimedia data sources to reduce noise and conversion rate for a vivid display. Users can enjoy vivid images with better contrast, brightness, skin tone and color saturation for all video applications. The Game and Night View Modes are great for extra gaming effects that not only sharpen the image details but also enhance the outlines ideal for underlying stealth actions.

Bluetooth 2.0 enhanced data rate transmits three times faster than the standard Bluetooth for increased connectivity and synchronization between digital devices. In addition, a complete range of input/ output ports offers dynamic data transfers and storage including, USB ports, TV-out port, card reader and express card slots.

Enjoy high-speed wireless Internet for data access and transfers with integrated WLAN 802.11 a/b/g. In addition, ASUS exclusive Net4 Switch Utility detects available network in the surrounding environment and allows users to select and make a switch anywhere, ensuring smooth connection transitions on the go.

The Parfumerie joins Ronan International Centre

A host of internationally acclaimed lifestyle products and accessories from Damas Diamonds, Dockers, Signature, Puma, Field, Addidas, Nike, Triumph, Dilmah, Ritzbury, Link, Ceylon Biscuits etc., have reserved retail floor space in the soon to be opened

destination mall-Ronan International Center, while more premium brands and products are vying for exclusive partnership with the center.

Joining the above brands and lifestyle stores is The Parfumerie, which will offer customers a shopping experience not to be missed. The Parfumerie, launched 15 years ago, is the leading name in perfumes, cosmetics and skin care in Sri Lanka.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Head of Marketing and PR of The Parfumerie Niki Hundlani said that the store will be one of a kind, and a brand new concept, different to any of the existing Parfumerie outlets.

The tie up with Ronan International Centre is in line with The Parfumerie’s rapid expansion plans, which according to Hundlani is with the sole objective of reaching out to more people in Colombo as well as the suburbs.

Hundlani said, "I find that many people hate having to come into Colombo to do their shopping, and what’s more, people who live in Colombo tend to shop outside the city in places like Nugegoda and Narahenpita and that’s what prompted the move to the Ronan International Centre. We had a great response with our existing outlet in Nugegoda."

Hundlani went on to say, "Yes we’re luxury and we’re prestige but we want people to know that our products are not just for the high end market. We’ve got something for everyone here, whether it’s an eyeliner pencil a shopper wants, a reasonably priced branded perfume or a really expensive one it’s all here."

The store at the Ronan International Centre will not be a traditional four-walled store according to Hundlani who stated that customers will be able to walk right through, a method that hopes to attract more customers who would otherwise shy away from what many perceive to be a prestigious and inaccessible store.

The Ronan International Centre is said to be opened in November this year, in time for the end-of-the-year festive season and Hundlani states that there will be prizes, surprises and many discounts come December.

A catalogue will be available soon at all outlets of Parfumerie as a shoppers guide to what’s in store this December at the outlets.

Hundlani explained, "Despite the big spending that comes with Christmas, we all want to save a little money and we’ll be giving our customers a chance to do just that. Besides the discounts, we’ll have special offers on many items. We’ll also be having something called a gift scheme, where if you buy certain products like Hugo Boss you get gifts in addition to the product, gifts like exclusive branded and imported travel and gym bags."

The eco-friendly design of the mall will boast of open-to-sky spaces, landscaped greenery and water fountains, as well as alfresco sit-outs to relax and interact. The R-Group International builds on the legacy of one of Sri Lanka’s pioneer companies Ceylon Carriers Limited, with over six decades of experience in the logistics and hospitality industries.

Ceylinco Homes Group build 45 Houses for Tsunami Victims

The Ceylinco Homes Group has embarked on a project to provide 45 houses for the families affected by the tsunami in Kalutara. The foundation stone for the commencement of ‘Ceylinco Sevana’, at a cost of more than Rs. 20 million was laid on 31st October 2007 at Meneritenne Eliya – Kalutara, by Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala – Chairman and Mrs. Sicille P.C. Kotelawala - Deputy Chairperson of Ceylinco Consolidated under the patronage of Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, M.P., Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, amidst a gathering of community and corporate leaders and Padmini Karunanayake – Deputy Chairperson Ceylinco Homes Group and the Ceylinco team. The 45 families who have been languishing in temporary shelters will be granted their permanent home when Ceylinco Sevana is completed.

Lowe LDB sharpens Brand Building skills

In town last week was Raj Gupta, a member of Lowe Worldwide’s Planning Think Tank, which was responsible for developing very effective and exciting new planning tools for the Lowe Group of Ad Agencies.

Gupta took Lowe LDB’s senior staffers through a Planning Tools Workshop. They worked on live cases and were joined at different stages by some of their clients to brainstorm consumer dynamics with special focus on specific brands.

Some of the special in depth planning tools developed and used extensively by the Lowe Group are Encounter, Path to Purchase, Growth-Grid, Radar Satellites, and Tipping Point.



©Leader Publications (Pvt) Ltd.
24, Katukurunduwatte Road, Ratmalana Sri Lanka
Tel : +94-75-365891,2 Fax : +94-75-365891
email :