Kithsiri Gunawardena, Chief Executive Officer, LOLC General Insurance
LOLC General Insurance, a fully-owned subsidiary of the LOLC Group recently became Sri Lanka’s first General Insurance company to achieve Rs. 6 billion Gross Written Premium (GWP) in less than 10 years. The company reached the Rs. 6 billion mark in December 2020, becoming the fastest General Insurance company to achieve this milestone in the industry. LOLC General Insurance CEO, Kithsiri Gunawardena talks of the many key attributes that helped reach this achievement.
What were the main factors that helped LOLC General Insurance reach the 6 billion GWP mark in less than 10 years?
LOLC General Insurance is a young company compared to the rest in the industry. During the last few years we continuously streamlined the processes and achieved greater coordination between different units of the company. The entire staff was motivated to work as one team and embark on a customer centric approach. A scheme was introduced whereby a pre-designated percentage of the company profits are shared with our staff thereby elevating them to become true stakeholders of our business. We also critically analysed our expenses and introduced mechanisms to achieve greater efficiency and productivity. The combination of these measures and our aggressive sales model supported by the commitment of our team resulted in the company being able to secure a substantial volume of new business outside of the group reflecting that we are well aligned to the needs of the market.
With a service first mind-set and the strong backing of the LOLC Group, LOLC General Insurance became the fastest growing Insurer in the industry with the highest growth in Motor as well as Non-Motor portfolios. This achievement was also made possible by the trust and confidence placed in us by our customers throughout the country as well as the indispensable contribution made by our staff.
The aggressive approach in sales, flexibility in policy options and a customer centric product portfolio has enabled this growth over the years. The company hopes to maintain the same focus, approach and excellence in the years ahead to sustain this growth momentum.
How did the company manage to progress despite the pandemic in 2020?
Year 2020 was probably the most challenging year for most businesses in the country and the insurance industry recorded a negative growth. Interestingly, LOLC General Insurance managed to record its best performance during this year. Although external operating conditions remained challenging, the General Insurance business performed steadily. Most disruptions create opportunities and we capitalised on becoming even more aggressive when most others opted to be cautious. By December 2020, we were able to reach the Rs. 6 bn mark mainly because of the commitment of our team who were always geared and motivated to offer uninterrupted services to the customers even during the pandemic.
What makes LOLC General Insurance different from the rest in the industry?
The aggressive business model, highly motivated and loyal staff, passionate leadership, unstinted reputation within the market on service quality and last but not least the strong backing of the LOLC Group is what makes us stand apart.
How do you view the opportunity and potential in the local market for General Insurance?
The opportunities are immense in the market. With a saturated Motor market and the challenge of limited new registrations for the foreseeable future, the price and service will be key in this sphere. The Non-Motor market is noticeably underpenetrated and this gives LOLC General Insurance opportunities to grow with our unique products and services to customers.
What are your future expansion plans?
2021 will see innovations in terms of customer engagement with respect to digital transformation as well as unique product ranges and service standards being introduced. By locating branches strategically, the company is enhancing customer convenience. Our focus on accomplishing full automation remains strong with the entire process automated end-to-end, from meeting the customer to the point of delivery while policy servicing is achieved via technology platforms. The country-wide reach will be enhanced with the formation of new regions/branches and close to 70 dedicated service points being established.
Any plans to venture into international markets?
With LOLC expanding into many markets in Asia and Africa, we too hope to expand the insurance services and products to several selected and potential international markets in the near future. LOLC Group has a very strong and highly respected brand presence in all the markets we operate. In some of these markets, the Insurance industry is in the early stages of development. Thus, the regulators are keen on the introduction of micro insurance products to support small and medium scale businesses for systemic stability.
SLT Group posts stable revenue growth amidst adverse socioeconomic environment in first half 2022
-Showcases resilience in business model-
Sri Lanka Telecom Group (SLT Group), the National ICT Solutions Provider, posted stable growth for the first half of 2022, with revenues increasing by 6% to Rs 52.9 Bn and a 19.8% increase in profit before tax (PBT) at Rs. 7.2 Bn against the same period last year, showcasing resilience in its business model amidst complex socioeconomic challenges facing the country.
Demonstrating operational efficiency, SLT Group’s EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) went up to Rs. 20.9 Bn for the first half of 2022, recording a growth of 7.8% compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. The EBITDA Margin stood at 39.7% for the period under review.
Building on the success of the previous quarter, the SLT Group was able to maintain a positive momentum for Q2 2022 recording gains of 4% in operating profit when compared to the previous quarter. The Group recorded a foreign exchange gain of Rs. 135 Mn during the quarter due to the prudent foreign exchange strategies of the Group. However, profit after tax (PAT) declined by 26.5% in Q2 compared to the previous quarter, mainly owing to the increase in income tax expenses during the period.
The SLT Group continued its strategic plan implemented at the beginning of the year, consolidating its performance throughout Q2 as well. However, during the period from April to June, the Group faced several business growth challenges including an unprecedented economic crisis, import restrictions, inflationary pressures etc. Furthermore, ongoing investments were affected; new projects were also impacted due to the increase of operational costs and the energy and fuel crisis resulted in operational challenges. Overcoming uncertainties, the Group with resilience made headway in strategic investments, undertaking appropriate management controls, in addition to managing the revenue portfolio in multiple segments.
The Operating Cash Flows of the Group grew to Rs. 23.5 Bn, up by 21.2% year-on-year. The Group recorded a favourable cash and cash equivalents position of Rs. 27 Bn as at the end of the reporting period. SLT Group’s contribution to the Government of Sri Lanka during the first half of 2022 amounted to Rs. 14 Bn. in direct and indirect taxes including levies and dividends.
SLT Group Chairman, Rohan Fernando said, “The period under review has been one of the most challenging periods that SLT-MOBITEL has faced in recent times exacerbated by a tough operating environment. However, due to the agility in our business model to deliver growth and a motivated team effort, we have been able to successfully generate positive results.”
Chevron Lubricants, Aitken Spence and Lanka IOC drive share market; turnover exceeds Rs. 5 billion
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The CSE gained over 1 per cent in mid-day trade yesterday pushed by Chevron Lubricants, Aitken Spence and Lanka IOC. The market remained extremely bullish yesterday too with mixed reactions in indices while the turnover exceeded the Rs 5 billion level. However, profit- takings were noted in certain blue-chip companies due to witnessing some down trend in certain companies, market analysts said.
Investors continue to focus on Lanka IOC stocks; which company dominated the country’s energy sector over the last two months. Consequently, its profitability also increased in leaps and bounds due to the heavy demand for fuel. Lanka IOC is to set up 50 filling stations and the approval has been granted by the Energy Ministry, which is also one of the reasons for the company’s share market to move up, stock market analysts said.
However, there was selling in most of the main counters of the CSE due to fears of unprecedented tax increases in the interim budget, a top market analyst said.
Further, Chevron Lubricants’ share prices also appreciated due to market speculation that the company is planning to enter the energy/fuel business with a Chinese company.
Amid those developments stock market indices reflected mixed reactions. The All- Share Price Index reached the 8500 points mark. It gained 77.03 points (0.91 per cent) to end at 8500 and S and P SL20 declined marginally by 9.49 points (0.34 per cent) to end the day at 2784.66.
Turnover stood at Rs 5.3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Watawala Plantations, which crossed 4.6 million shares to the tune of Rs 403 million; its shares traded at Rs 87, Citizens Development Business Finance 1.1 million shares crossed for Rs 217 million, its shares traded at Rs 200, Commercial Bank 2.6 million shares crossed to the tune of Rs 145 million and its shares fetched Rs 54 and Hunas Falls 625,000 shares crossed to the tune of Rs 25 million; its shares traded at Rs 40.
In the retail market, top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Lanka IOC Rs 1.9 million (14 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 449 million (2.3 million shares traded), JKH Rs 252 million (2.1 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 135 million (226,000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 131 million (16.9 million shares traded), Chevron Lubricants Rs 130 million (one million shares traded) and LOLC Holdings Rs 88.5 million (9.8 million shares traded).
It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Melstacorp and Bairaha Farms. Mixed interest was observed in Lanka IOC, Expolanka Holdings and JKH, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments, LOLC Finance and Agstar.
Energy sector was the top contributor to market turnover (due to Lanka IOC), while the sector index gained 15.15 per cent. Food, Beverage and Tobacco sector was the second highest contributor to the market turnover (due to Melstacorp).
Expolanka Holdings, JKH and LOLC Holdings were also included among the top turnover contributors. The share price of Expolanka Holdings lost Rs. 1.50 (0.73 per cent) to close at Rs. 203. The share price of JKH closed flat at Rs. 119.
Yesterday the Central Bank- announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 357.29 and its selling rate Rs 368.61.
Unilever launches all new Surf Excel 2-in-1 laundry detergent with added fragrance of Comfort
Standing as a testament to its commitment to innovation, to meet the changing needs of Sri Lankan consumers, Unilever Sri Lanka’s leading laundry detergent brand, Surf Excel, recently launched its latest 2-in-1 laundry detergent product, fused with the premium fragrance of Comfort Fabric Conditioner.
For the first time in Sri Lanka, consumers can experience Surf Excel’s all-inclusive superior stain removal with the premium fragrance of Comfort Fabric Conditioner, which gets rid of tough stains from deep within fabrics. Comfort’s premium floral fragrance will leave washed laundry smelling fresh and fragrant after every wash. The new formulation is also gentle on hands, making every handwash a pleasant experience.
Speaking on the launch, Sharmila Bandara, Marketing Director – Homecare and Nutrition, Unilever Sri Lanka said, “When children go out and play, they don’t just get their clothes dirty or stained, but experience life, observe, make friends, or learn to share. This helps them get stronger, develop well rounded personalities and brave the world outside.” She further added “For generations, Surf Excel has been taking care of tough stains for mothers around the country. Now, with the addition of the premium fragrance of Comfort, washing and wearing clothes will become a much more memorable experience for all.”
Surf Excel 2-in-1 with the added premium fragrance of Comfort Fabric Conditioner comes in a pink and blue pack and consumers may purchase the product in seven different sizes at retail outlets and supermarkets island wide.
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