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‘Maia’ Artisanal Cheese opens flagship store at Cinnamon Lakeside

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Handmade artisanal cheese brand, Maia Cheese, recently opened its flagship store in Cinnamon Lakeside to make their products more accessible to their loyal clientele. Maia Cheese is the brainchild of Georgian master cheesemaker Maia Donadze who started the brand in 2005 in Goa, India and later moved to Sri Lanka in 2015. Maia Cheese is based in Madipola, Matale.

Commenting on the landmark event, founder Maia Donadze said: “I am very thankful to the wonderful people of Sri Lanka for embracing both me & my cheese. The journey so far has been a challenging yet fulfilling one. We intend to keep experimenting & expanding our catalogue as we aspire to be the one-stop-shop for handmade European cheese both locally & regionally.”

Donadze thanked co-founder Sheriozha Anthony Wijekoon for all the support and guidance offered in elevating Maia Cheese to its current position as a household name within a short period of time.

Recently, Maia Cheese partnered with Barista Cafes, the John Keells Group and Jetwing Hotels & Resorts as a supplier. Maia Cheese’s other partners include Softlogic Glomark, Good Market, Saaraketha Organics & Aitken Spence PLC GPD (Global Parcel Delivery).

Maia Cheese currently offers the widest range of artisanal cheese in Sri Lanka that includes the following: Cheddar – contains no artificial flavors or preservatives; eaten cold or melted, Fresh Mozzarella – refreshing & supple, Smoked mozzarella – smoked to enhance milky flavor, Grated mozzarella – ideal as topping for Italian cuisine, Queen Blue – a specialty cheese characterized by white color and fine blue veins, Brie – a white, soft & ripened cheese, Goat Cream –a healthier alternative, Goat Feta Cheese – for salads, Halloumi – a local twist on the cheese variety originating from Cyprus, Dumplings –made from fresh ricotta, Caciocavallo –a type of stretched curd cheese etc. Maia also has three types of delectable gourmet butter: salted, unsalted and garlic-infused. All products can be purchased via the flagship store, partner outlets island wide or online at https://www.maiacheese.lk/



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JKH records EBITDA growth of  9% to Rs.10.41 billion in Q3

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Summarised below are the key operational and financial highlights of our performance during the quarter under review:

Group EBITDA recorded an improvement to Rs.10.41 billion during the quarter under review, which is an increase of 9 per cent against the comparative period of last year [2021/22 Q3: Rs.9.53 billion]. Excluding the impact of a one-off deferred tax charge at South Asia Gateway Terminals on account of the significant change in income tax rates, Group EBITDA increased by 17 per cent to Rs.11.17 billion in the third quarter of the financial year 2022/23.

Apart from the Consumer Foods and Property industry groups, the Group’s businesses recorded growth in EBITDA compared to the third quarter of the previous year.

The Transportation industry group recorded an increase in profitability due to its USD denominated revenue streams and resultant translation gains due to the depreciation of the Rupee as compared against the previous year.

Krishan Balendra Chairperson JKH

The groundwork on the West Container Terminal (WCT-1) at the Port of Colombo is progressing well with the dredging works being rapidly completed. The contract for the quay wall construction, a significant component of the overall construction works, was awarded in October 2022. Overall timelines for the project remain as originally envisaged.

The Leisure industry group recorded a strong performance driven by the Maldivian Resorts and Colombo Hotels segments.

The Supermarket business recorded an EBITDA growth of 26 per cent to Rs.1.99 billion due to an increase in same store sales driven by a combination of higher customer footfall and basket values due to high inflation. The overall profitability in the Retail industry group was impacted by a substantial decline in the EBITDA of the Office Automation business compared to the third quarter of the previous year.

Profitability in the Consumer Foods businesses were impacted by volume declines reflective of dampened consumer sentiments, and lower margins, although margin pressure is expected to ease off from the fourth quarter of 2022/23 onwards.

The Property industry group recorded a decline in profitability as the third quarter of the previous year included revenue and profit recognition from the handover of the residential apartments and commercial office floors at ‘Cinnamon Life’. The recognition of revenue of all units sold at ‘Cinnamon Life’ up to 31 March 2022 was recorded across 2021/22.

The Insurance business recorded a growth in the life insurance surplus and gross written premiums whilst Nations Trust Bank recorded an increase in net interest margins and a reduction in costs.

The Group’s carbon footprint per million rupees of revenue decreased by 25 per cent to 0.38 MT while the water withdrawal per million rupees of revenue decreased by 17 per cent to 7.56 cubic meters.

Initiatives under ‘ONE JKH’, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) brand of the John Keells Group, included a perception survey to better understand employee awareness and sentiment towards increasing career opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Cognizant of the multiple economic hardships faced by the people of the country, and in recognition of the Group’s role as a leading responsible corporate citizen, the Group continued its multipronged crisis response programme with a particular focus in the areas of food security, education and nutrition among vulnerable segments such as school children.

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CSE positively impacted by US ambassador’s comments on bail-out

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE share trading kicked off on a positive note yesterday following US ambassador Julie Chung’s positive comments on the IMF bailout to foreign media and the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland arriving in Sri Lanka last morning, stock market analysts said.

The market gained in mid-day trade yesterday, mainly pushed up by banking and financial sectors, brokers said. As a result, both indices moved upwards. The All- Share Price Index went up by 84.96 points and S and P SL20 rose by 45.29 points.

Turnover amounted to Rs 1.5 billion without any crossings. The reason for investor sentiment to move up was because it was clear that the US seems to be pushing creditors to go for debt restructuring to obtain the IMF bailout for Sri Lanka, analysts said.

In the retail market seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; JKH Rs 239 million (1.7 million shares traded), Softlogic Life Insurance Rs 175 million (1.4 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 164 million (805,000 shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 154 million (806,000 shares traded), Softlogic Capital Rs 125 million (7.8 million shares traded), Tokyo Cement (Non -Voting) Rs 46.5 million (1.5 million shares traded) and Lanka Tiles Rs 46.4 million (one million shares traded).

It said high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in John Keells Holdings, Lanka IOC and Lanka Wall Tiles. Mixed interest was observed in Softlogic Life Insurance, Expolanka Holdings and Chevron Lubricants, while retail interest was noted in LOLC Finance, Softlogic Capital and Browns Investments.

The Capital Goods sector was the top contributor to the market turnover (due to JKH), while the sector index lost 1.06 per cent. The share price of JKH recorded a loss of 50 cents to settle at Rs. 139.50.

The Insurance sector was the second highest contributor to the market turnover (due to Softlogic Life Insurance) while the sector index increased by 1.31%. The share price of Softlogic Life Insurance increased by Rs. 2 to close at Rs. 120.50.

Lanka IOC, Softlogic Capital and LOLC Finance were also included among the top turnover contributors. The share price of Lanka IOC lost Rs. 2 to close at Rs. 206.25. The share price of Softlogic Capital moved up by 20 cents to close at Rs. 15.90. The share price of LOLC Finance closed flat at Rs. 6.90.

“We are seeing a lot of activity today, mostly retail interest led by the life insurance companies like Softlogic life and Softlogic Capital, a market analyst said. “Foreign buying was there in the last few days as well”. During the day 60.2 million share volumes changed hands in 14000 transactions.

It is said that Colombo City Hotel subdivided its shares by one share into 20 ordinary shares for its shareholders.

The stock market ended the first month of the New Year with a gain of over 4 per cent, largely influenced by strong momentum earlier on as investor sentiment of late has been bearish.

January saw the benchmark ASPI gain by 4.4 per cent and the active S&P SL20 Index by 5 per cent. Daily turnover averaged Rs. 1.86 billion, according sources said.

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External Sector Performance – December 2022

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*  Earnings from exports remained resilient during 2022 recording the highest ever exports,

while expenditure on imports declined significantly in 2022, compared to 2021.

*  Merchandise trade deficit recorded the lowest in 2022, since 2010.

*  Foreign investments in the government securities market and Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded a notable net inflow during 2022 compared to net outflow in 2021.

*  The recovery in earnings from tourism persisted in 2022 and marked a noticeable growth, although workers’ remittances moderated in 2022, compared to 2021.

Performance of Merchandise Trade in 2022

Earnings from exports in 2022 surpassed US dollars 13 billion per year for the first time, recording an increase of 4.9 per cent from the previous highest recorded in 2021. This improvement was a result of increased earnings from industrial exports, including garments, gems, diamonds and jewellery, machinery and mechanical appliances and petroleum products. Meanwhile, total import expenditure in 2022 amounted to US dollars 18,291 million, recording a decline of 11.4 per cent, year-on-year, resulted from measures to restrict non-urgent imports and liquidity constraints prevailed in the market for the most part of 2022. As a result, the deficit in the trade account in 2022 narrowed to the lowest level since 2010 to US dollars 5,185 million, from US dollars 8,139 million recorded in 2021.

The major contributory factors for the decline in the cumulative trade deficit in 2022 are shown in Merchandise Trade Balance The deficit in the merchandise trade account narrowed to US dollars 358 million in December 2022, from US dollars 1,085 million recorded in December 2021, helped by a larger decline in imports, compared to the decline in exports.

Performance of Merchandise Exports1 Overall exports:

Earnings from merchandise exports declined by 7.7 per cent in December 2022, over December 2021, to US dollars 1,068 million. The decline in earnings from industrial exports mainly contributed to the decline in export earnings in December 2022.

Industrial exports: Earnings from the export of industrial goods declined in December 2022, compared to December 2021, mainly due to the lower exports of garments resulted from reduced spending capacity associated with high inflation and recessionary concerns in most of the major markets (the USA, the EU and the UK). Similarly, earnings from rubber products continued to decline due to the lower exports of tires and household rubber gloves. Further, a sizable decline was recorded in the exports of food, beverages, and tobacco (mainly, manufactured tobacco), although earnings from gems, diamonds, and jewellery; and machinery and mechanical appliances (mainly, electronic equipment) increased.

Agricultural exports: Earnings from tea exports marginally declined with the higher average export prices of tea was offset by the decline in volume exported, resulted from the lag effect of the unavailability of adequate fertiliser. Earnings from the export of other agricultural goods declined in December 2022, compared to a year ago, resulted from lower export volumes of pepper, categorised under spices.

Mineral exports: Earnings from mineral exports increased in December 2022, compared to December 2021, mainly due to the increase in export of titanium ores.

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