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Microsoft innovative educator programme making headway in Sri Lanka

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Microsoft is spotlighting the resilience and leadership of teachers worldwide who continue to provide remote learning, support vulnerable populations, and close gaps in education throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Last year, Microsoft welcomed 4,366 Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEE) onboard its Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) program from the Asia region – a twofold increase from the previous year and the largest representation from the region to date. In Sri Lanka, 113 experts joined the ranks of MIE experts in the region.

The MIE program, which began in 2014, recognizes global educators who are using technology to pave the way for their peers for better learning and student outcomes. The program comprises more than one million educators worldwide who have joined the Microsoft Educator Center and successfully completed professional development online courses, accessed resources, and shared learnings with their colleagues.

“In these historic and challenging times, MIE Experts are true exemplars of innovative teachers who inspire with their student-centered approach, making a meaningful difference in the lives of their students,” said Hasitha Abeywardena, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives. “These teachers constantly seek new and innovative ways to incorporate 21st century learning into their classrooms, including remote learning, which they made possible in spite of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. They are helping students build future-ready skills that will enable them to succeed in school, life and career.”



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‘JAT posts stellar Q2 – doubles PBT and commences manufacturing in Bangladesh’

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JAT Holdings PLC has posted exceptional financial performance for Q2 of FY 2022/23. During the Quarter, the Group also achieved a major milestone, delivering on its key IPO promise, by inaugurating its own end-to-end state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Bangladesh. Simultaneously, JAT Holdings PLC also recorded its highest-ever revenue for Q2 in history, doubling its profit before tax, compared with the corresponding period in the year prior.

Accordingly, JAT Holdings PLC noted a YTD revenue growth of 40% during the period, concurrently managing to increase gross profit margins amidst the most challenging economic environment in its history, clearly demonstrating the Group’s strategic and fiscal prowess.

Gross Profit margins grew during the period under review amidst a deepening economic crisis, material scarcity in global markets and foreign exchange outflow restrictions. The Group’s strategy of purchasing raw materials in bulk and maintaining adequate stocks for at least 6 months at all times, allowed the enterprise to benefit from economies of scale, while JAT Holdings’ prudent and effective waste management efforts helped to improve productivity and efficiency. As a result, operating profit also recorded a healthy growth of 111% during the period under review, supported by cost management efforts, which helped manage input cost inflation and foreign exchange volatility. Profit Before Tax (PBT) and Profit After Tax (PAT) also sustained their recovery momentum, while showing sharp rises in the quarter under review, contrasted with the corresponding period in the previous year.

Commenting on the business momentum, CEO Nishal Ferdinando said, “Supported by our new manufacturing facility in Bangladesh and expert manoeuvring in the Sri Lankan market amidst the toughest business environment we have endured to date, we are pleased to present rock solid financial performance to our investors, and exceptional value to all other stakeholders. Leveraging our excellent relationships with suppliers, we have secured raw materials and shored up our stocks to be able to meet upcoming seasonal demand. The capital raised at the IPO has enabled us to keep borrowing costs to a minimum amidst a tighter monetary environment, which has delivered a positive boost to our bottom line. We intend to move forward with the present momentum and continue to deliver exceptional performance during the remainder of FY 2022/23.”

The Group’s WHITE by JAT range of brilliant white paints grew rapidly, driven by a unique hybrid marketing strategy. Commencement of manufacturing in Bangladesh, coupled with the opening of JAT Holdings PLC’s R&D Centre, another fulfilment of an IPO pledge, helped to drive business momentum during the quarter

Discussing the Group’s strategy and future plans, Founder and Managing Director Aelian Gunawardene added, “Just over a year on from our IPO, I’m pleased to communicate to investors that we have fulfilled the pledges made in our prospectus. We have completed and commissioned our ultramodern end-to-end manufacturing and warehousing facility in Bangladesh, located strategically in close proximity to seaports and our key markets in that country, Dhaka and Chittagong. Our Research and Development Centre is now operational, staffed by teams of experts who will help us to engineer better, cleaner and more efficient products in the future. I am also very pleased to state that the Group as a whole has come together to look after our people amidst the present crises, providing relief allowances and other benefits to help cushion the blow. We are excited about the future and look forward to growing and defending our position as Sri Lanka’s market leader for wood coatings and an emerging giant in the region.”

Since its founding in 1993, JAT Holdings has established itself as a market leader in Sri Lanka for wood coatings and as one of the country’s most promising conglomerates. This is further attested to by accolades such as being ranked amongst Sri Lanka’s ‘Top 100 Most Respected Companies’ by LMD for four years consecutively and also ranking among the ‘Top 20 Conglomerate Brands’ by Brand Finance.

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Bourse driven along positive trajectory by Expolanka and Lanka IOC

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading activities were positive yesterday at the beginning and mid- day shares edged up driven by Expolanka and Lanka IOC, market analysts said.

After margin calls selling pressure reduced in the market and the neutralization of macro- economic conditions created positive sentiment for the stock market, analysts said.

Analysts said that the market was driven by Expolanka and Lanka IOC on positive sentiment. Last Friday, Expolanka pushed -up the market following the announcement of its expansion plans. The market generated a turnover of Rs 1.1 billion in its first hour of trade, compared to a daily average of Rs 1.2 billion. The Expolanka share price appreciated by Rs 19 or 12 per cent. Its share price shot up to Rs 182.25 from Rs 163.25 at the end of trading.

Amid these developments both indices moved upwards. The All- Share Price Index (ASPI) gained by 161 points, while Sri Lanka’s most liquid index grew by 101 points. Turnover stood at Rs 2.45 billion with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in Lankem Development, which crossed 1.4 million shares to the tune of Rs 41 million, its shares traded at Rs 29.30 and Lanka IOC 120,000 shares crossed for Rs 22.2 million and its shares traded at Rs 185.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were Expolanka Holdings Rs 1.12 billion (6.3 million shares traded), Lanka-IOC Rs 336 million (1.7 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 193 million (33 million shares traded), ACL Cables Rs 86.2 million (1.1 million shares traded), First Capital Holdings Rs 67.5 million (3.4 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 61.1 million (168,000 shares traded) and Lankem Development Rs 32 million (1.1 million shares traded). During the day 77.1 million share volumes changed hands in 20000 transactions.

The country’s manufacturing and services sectors contracted in October as per the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) compiled by the Central Bank.

The Manufacturing PMI saw a decline of 4.2 index points in comparison to September driven by decreases recorded in all the sub-indices. The Services PMI gained by 3.3 index points due to the declines observed in new businesses, employment and backlog of work.

Nevertheless, business activities and expectations for activity continued their increasing momentum during the month.

Yesterday the Central Bank- announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 360.29 and the selling rate Rs 371.29.

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PickMe tweaks algorithms to boost Colombo’s restaurant economy

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PickMe has taken its technology interface a couple of notches higher, with the platform modifying its algorithms to introduce a new product that will provide more benefits for the company’s customer base, increase growth of its merchants and enhance rider income.

Zulfer Jiffry, CEO of PickMe says the company’s new product, ‘PickMe Pass’ is a natural progression for any technological platform that deals with algorithms.  “We live in an era where the digital economy impacts our lives on a daily basis. Our customers increasingly seek more convenience and better value for their money. This means finding ways to mix and match situations and issues we face, by finding solutions that will improve our lives.  Customers who wish to be a part of this new technology input, will have the option of paying a nominal fee, which will give them priority access to a range of benefits across the various product categories on the PickMe platform including benefits such as taxi matching, driver selection and customer service as well as getting full waivers on delivery fees.  While this will provide a higher level of service to our customers, it will also directly benefit our driver network, partner outlets and restaurants.”

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