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Nestlé Lanka announces investment in factory expansion worth over Rs. 2 billion



From left – Anura Priyadarshanayapa, Member of Parliament; Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, Minister of Industries and Plantations; Jason Avanceña, Managing Director, Nestlé Lanka; Dominik Furgler, Swiss Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Renuka Weerakone, Director General of the Board of Investments. Pic by Nishan S. Priyantha

Expanded capacity enables the company to explore new markets beyond 50 countries it is currently serving

Nestlé Lanka has invested over Rs. 6.6 billion in Sri Lanka over the past five years

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Nestlé Lanka yesterday reaffirmed its commitment towards Sri Lanka by investing over Rs. 2 billion in its state-of-the-art factory in Kurunegala by building a new Vacuum Band Dryer (VBD).

Aimed at expanding the capacity of its manufacturing facility for malted food, this investment would further strengthen the company’s efforts of positively impacting Sri Lanka and its people.

The new VBD will increase the production capacity of two of its biggest brands – Nestlé Nestomalt and Milo, allowing the Company to explore the opportunity of expanding its exports to several new markets, beyond the 50 countries it is currently serving.

Nestlé Lanka’s Kurunegala factory manufactures over 90% of Nestlé products sold in the country, employing strict quality controls. Aged 115 years, the ‘Good food, Good life’ company has become an integral part of Sri Lankan lives and contributes to the livelihoods of more than 25,000 Sri Lankan dairy and coconut farmers and out-growers and provides direct employment to over 800. Over the past five years, the company has consistently invested in the country, amounting to over Rs. 6.6 billion.

First of its kind in the local Food & Beverage industry, the Swiss-designed Vacuum Band Dryer adopts the latest technology and helps the company deliver more of its much-loved brands – Nestlé Nestomalt and Nestlé Milo enriched with Iron and Vitamin D.

An event was held at Nestlé Lanka’s Kurunegala factory yesterday to mark the inauguration of this project, by laying the foundation stone of the building which would house the new VBD.

The event was attended by Minister of Industries and Plantations, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana; Swiss Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Dominik Furgler; Member of Parliament, Anura Priyadarshanayapa and Director General of the Board of Investments, Renuka Weerakone along with officials from Nestlé Lanka.

Addressing the gathering, chief guest, Minister of Industries and Plantations, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said, “Economic prosperity is driven by investment which not only improves capacity, but also enhances people’s quality of life. Therefore, I consider it an honour to be present at this event today, as one of Sri Lanka’s leading companies announces an investment worth over Rs. 2 billion. I am also glad to note that this investment would ultimately increase the company’s export potential, as foreign exchange is imperative for economic growth at present.”

Member of Parliament, Anura Priyadarshanayapa said “As a company with deep roots in the country for 115 long years, Nestlé Lanka has consistently invested in Sri Lanka with purpose. The trust the company has placed in the country’s potential is truly inspirational. I look forward to witnessing the positive ripple effect this investment will bring forth to our communities and the economy, in the years to come.”

“We are currently facing several economic volatilities, both short and long term, and the role played by capital investments is vital in supporting economic recovery and growth. Therefore, we appreciate Nestlé Lanka’s efforts in strengthening its investments in Sri Lanka, as it echoes a positive message about the potential of the country, encouraging further investments” said Renuka Weerakone, Director General, Board of Investments Sri Lanka.

Jason Avanceña, Managing Director of Nestlé Lanka said, “Although this is a challenging time for all of us in Sri Lanka, we believe in the country’s resilience, potential and its future wholeheartedly. We reaffirm our commitment to Sri Lanka, and we will continue to invest in our facilities and bring top Swiss-designed technology to cater to the different needs of our consumers in Sri Lanka. On behalf of Nestlé Lanka, it is a great pride for me to announce this investment and expansion of our malted food category. This investment is testament to our unwavering commitment towards the country and cements our deep roots with Sri Lankans for over 115 years. We hope to positively contribute to our consumers and communities through this investment, by increasing the production capacity of two of our biggest brands – Nestlé Nestomalt and Milo. We are also happy to share with you that this investment would also allow us to explore the opportunity of expanding our exports to several new markets, beyond the 50 countries we are currently serving, helping us contribute to the generation of foreign currency inflow.”

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Top agents from Kuwait visit Sri Lanka on familiarization tour



Eleven of Kuwait’s top tour operators and travel agents arrived in Sri Lanka this week on Jazeera Airways on a familiarization tour. Jazeera Airways currently operates three flights weekly to Sri Lanka connecting the leisure and labour markets. The familiarization tour was organized and sponsored by Jazeera’s General Sales Agent in Sri Lanka, Aitken Spence PLC.

The familiarization group travelled and enjoyed the highlights of Sri Lanka during their stay in Sri Lanka. Commenting on the tour, Travel agent P Mayur stated “We love the Sri Lankan people’s smile, hospitality and their humbleness” We heard lots of negative news prior to our arrival, and were wondering if we were making the right decision. However, when we came into the country, our experiences were nothing negative”. I am definitely coming back to this beautiful country to enjoy the beaches with my family and it won’t be too long” Another member of the group Sami Malik stated that “it’s amazing to see how Sri Lankan’s love and preserve their cultural values of the country. The rich history and heritage are something our clients would love to discover in Sri Lanka”

The Jazeera airlines familiarization tour concluded with an awards ceremony recognizing the airlines top agents. The event was graced by the Minister of Tourism and Land Harin Fernando and State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya.

Jazeera airlines has good connections in the Middle East region and can contribute to the revival of tourism in Sri Lanka by connecting the middle east travellers to the country. The agent familiarization tour is expected to contribute towards promoting destination Sri Lanka. Jazeera now operates three flights per week from Kuwait to Colombo; however, the airline expects to raise its frequency of flights per week by early 2023. Jazeera Airways operates its best-in-class Airbus 320 Neo aircraft to Colombo, connecting more than 50 destinations across the continents.

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Sysco LABS’ Managing Director, Shanil Fernando Emphasizes HR’s Role in Retaining Local Talent



Shanil Fernando, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sysco LABS Sri Lanka, recently spoke at the ‘Employing Tomorrow’s HR Today: The CEO’s Perspective’ panel discussion organized by the Association of HR Professionals Sri Lanka (AHRP).Representing the ICT industry, Shanil shared his insights on retaining and developing talent, unique people initiatives at Sysco LABS, and how emerging technologies like AI are transforming HR processes.

An industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience in technology and innovation, Shanil highlighted the importance of HR’s role in transforming the workplace into a sanctuary that gives employees peace of mind to do their best work. Speaking about people challenges, he focused on the local tech industry’s current issue of attrition and emphasized the necessity for crafting a sound employee engagement and retention strategy that addresses both financial and mental well-being.

Alluding to the present economic crisis, he said: “The country’s key industries, including technology, are experiencing significant attrition at the moment. Collectively, retaining talent has become a major challenge. The primary reason for this migration is the socioeconomic impact of the current economic crisis. In order to mitigate this, the economic situation must be addressed urgently. High public taxes will also compound the problem. The government must take the necessary steps to reduce the burden put on the private sector by introducing significant reforms to non–performing State-Owned Enterprises, avoiding public funds being used to keep loss-making SOEs afloat. Privatization or listing such enterprises on the stock exchange will allow them to be scrutinized in the same manner as a well-run private company, ensuring true transparency and accountability. As organizations, what we can do is build mechanisms that insulate employees, as much as possible, from the impact of the current economic crisis. For example, if the company is at an advantage as a FOREX generator, they can share this advantage equitably with their employees.”

Shanil emphasized the importance of transforming modern-day HR professionals into strategic business partners who are creative, innovative and able to proactively deliver solutions. Elaborating on vital steps taken at Sysco LABS, to transform its people operations to be more strategic in identifying talent needs, he said: “We are a strong, culture-oriented company. The pandemic dampened our culture efforts in the last 2 years, but we’re now focused on rejuvenating this culture and HR must be a flexible change agent that works together with other business functions to enhance the workplace experience for everyone. At Sysco LABS, every associate is allocated an HR Business Partner who will support them throughout their entire journey at the company and ensure all their needs are met. This enables us to deliver a more wholesome work experience to our associates.”

Shanil also spoke about how emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) can transform the HR function, noting that AI creates opportunities for greater efficiency and more intelligent decision-making. He suggested that HR leaders must adopt AI as it gives businesses a critical edge when gauging future talent needs and understanding how to better create a compelling people experience.

Summing up the impact of initiatives implemented at Sysco LABS, Shanil said, “Sysco LABS is impacting a Fortune 100 company and a trillion-dollar, global industry from here in Sri Lanka. Our people are our most precious resource, and we strive to make the workplace a sanctuary for all of them. We want our associates to feel supported and cared for, with our initiatives driving engagement and camaraderie reflecting that. It’s these initiatives that have enabled us to maintain a purpose-driven, world-class workspace exposing our associates to global experiences and opportunities.”

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CICT pledges US$ 25,000 for sight-saving surgeries in Sri Lanka



Another group of Sri Lankans with correctable eye diseases and disorders will soon begin surgery to restore clearer vision, thanks to the latest phase of a community initiative of Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) in partnership with the Nawaloka Hospital.CICT recently donated US$ 25,000 (Rs 9.25 million at current exchange rates) it has pledged for the project. The donation is part of CICT’s ‘C-Blue Restore Sight Project’ that the Company launched in 2015.

Nawaloka Hospital will procure, supply and utilise all the resources needed to implement the project, including providing professional medical staff, lenses, accessories, and other equipment to perform surgeries, under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two organisations. The patients for these free surgeries will be selected from the waiting lists of several government hospitals in Sri Lanka, on the recommendations of the signatory organisations.

Commenting on CICT’s continuing support to this eye care programme, the Company’s General Manager – Administration and Corporate Social Responsibility Mr Grant Yang said: “The C-Blue Restore Sight Project was launched to enable access to eye care, especially for those living in impoverished conditions. The recent economic crisis in Sri Lanka has pushed many more beyond the poverty line, and often, non-emergency healthcare is one of the casualties on the list of priorities. With this latest phase of the project, CICT is reaffirming its commitment to the continuity of this initiative, despite the challenges faced by the business.”

Cataract surgeries, refractive surgeries that reshape the cornea (LASIK surgery), and Corneal Collagen Crosslinking (CXL) including squint correction and keratoplasty will be performed under this phase of the CICT ‘C-Blue Restore Sight Project.’ Additionally, selected patients requiring the Avastin injection for visual defects too will be accommodated. Plans to conduct eye camps in certain needy areas identified by CICT are also in the pipeline.

At a ceremony held recently at the Hospital, Mr Grant Yang presented a symbolic cheque to the Chairman and CEO of Nawaloka Hospitals Dr Jayantha Dharmadasa and the Hospital’s Director/General Manager Vidya Jyothi Emeritus Professor Lal G. Chandrasena. Thereafter, the CICT team visited some of the patients scheduled for surgeries. Since the launch of the ‘C-Blue Restore Sight Project’ in 2015, CICT has funded more than 450 cataract surgeries to restore sight, in collaboration with the National Eye Hospital.

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