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Salon owners contemplating pulling the plug, putting more than 300,000 jobs at risk

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  • = Ban on imported cosmetic products hampers industry
  • = Marked decrease in consumers patronising salons
  • = Developing Sri Lanka as a wedding-hub ‘fading away’
  • = Urges President to help protect the self-reliant industry

By Sanath Nanayakkare

Ninety percent of salons across Sri Lanka are at the risk of closure unless the temporary ban on imported cosmetic products is lifted soon, Jackie Aponso, president, Hair and Beauty Cluster (HBC) said last week addressing a press conference in Colombo.

She claimed that such an eventuality could lead to 75%-80% job losses of industry personnel. “That’s a large number as HBC is a unification of many associations in the beauty and personal care sector with 450,000 members,” she said.According to the figures given by her if the situation persists, 337,500 – 360,000 jobs would be lost for employees in the industry.

‘Yes, there is a sound fiscal argument for the government’s temporary ban on imported cosmetic products in the tight foreign exchange reserves backdrop. But if the ban is not lifted by the end of this month to facilitate the availability of international cosmetic brands in the market for upcoming Christmas and New Year, its impact will take a devastating toll on the 450,000 self-employed individuals engaged in the industry and 1.5 million of their dependents”, Jackie said.

‘Most foreign and local customers prefer international brands for their hair and skin treatments. Although a number of home-grown cosmetic brands have emerged, customers prefer their hair and facials done with brands that have been frontrunners in the market which they have relied on for years. Being a highly customer-centric business, we have to work with formulas that customers are comfortable with, because they are concerned about what we put on their face and hair.”

“It’s a relief to hear that the import ban is temporary. But it needs to be lifted quickly to allow sufficient lead time for cosmetics importers to place orders and bring the products to Sri Lanka. It was no secret that our industry was heavily battered by the Covid-19 pandemic and somehow we braved up to this point safeguarding our businesses. And we all have been looking forward to this season to offset the losses we suffered in the past two and a half years. If the ban is lifted by end of this month, imported brands will be available in the market by mid or end of November, and salons will be well-positioned to start work diligently as the season kicks off. But if the imported products reach here as late as mid-December, then this year also will be marked as another unfortunate business year for the salon industry, “she said.

“When we don’t have wedding makeup essentials, a number of other industries also will get affected; such as hotels, wedding and event planners, wedding florists, bridal photographers, Poruwa suppliers, hall decorators and so on. As a result of the import ban, a black market has emerged where the prices of cosmetics have gone up by 6-7 folds. This has put 90% of our beauty and personal care parlours in great difficulty. A hair spray which was about Rs. 2,000, now costs Rs. 12,000. Can we pass that cost burden to the customer? No, we can’t. It is the same with all other products. There are a few salons that can afford such high costs and charge high prices, but the majority of our members are not so, and they are at the risk of closing their businesses. As there has been a marked decrease in customers patronizing salons, some members even called us and asked for help to sell their equipment and exit the industry. Such a situation may create an unemployment problem as they are all self-employed individuals.”

According to HBC, the industry’s cosmetics import bill accounts for 0.08% of the total national import bill. They also highlighted the fact that all registered cosmetics importers and HBC members pay their due taxes to the government.

Salon entrepreneur Bernie Balasuriya said: “Our industry brings in foreign exchange to the country. When foreigners and expatriates come to Sri Lanka for weddings, their families stay in hotels for about a week. Sometimes we set up salon space inside the hotel to cater to beauty and personal care needs of these visitors. They want us to use international cosmetic brands. This is an industry which earns foreign exchange and which therefore demands best industry practices.”

Theekshani Kariyawasam, Gold medal winner at OMC Hairworld in France in the category of bridal makeup, who successfully competed against contestants from more than 60 countries, said that the situation is so sad especially because Sri Lankan beauty artistes and entrepreneurs have never been a burden on the economy. We have always relied on our own talent and commitment. We need international cosmetic products to work with and be recognized for highest standards on par with other destinations.”

Asoka Thilakaratna who boasts 35-years of experience in the industry said,”Skilled Sri Lankan hairdressers and beauticians get overseas jobs because they have a lot of knowledge and experience in working with international cosmetic brands and techniques. That serves as a plus point for them at job interviews with prospective foreign employers. Further, I heard the good news that there would be some Indian weddings taking place here in Sri Lanka in November, December and January. I know from my experience that they come as groups about a week before the wedding and get all their beauty treatments done in Sri Lanka. If we don’t have cosmetic brands they love and trust, we could miss out on these business opportunities because they make it a point to stay away from lesser known products and fake products.”

Concluding the comments, Jackie Aponso said,” We have made an appeal to President Ranil Wickremasinghe to consider the lifting of the ban with the objective of protecting this self-reliant industry and its self-employments. We look forward to a favourable solution in time to get back to business.”



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Trio of collections to mark Vogue Jewellers’ 60th anniversary

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Marking another milestone, Vogue Jewellers, Sri Lanka’s premier jeweller staged an unprecedented trio of jewellery collections at a lavish jewellery show held at Shangri-la, Colombo. The event featured Royal Majestic Collection – the third volume of Sri Lanka’s first ever branded patented 22 karat gold jewellery; Vogue Lace Collection – a Diamond encrusted 22 karat gold necklace collection inspired by Beeralu lace and the luxurious Diamond Necklaces Collection along with the complete set of Vogue Lotus Bridal Jewellery – 22 karat Kandyan bridal jewellery collection. The collections released exhibit Vogue’s instinctive ability to focus on fashion, uniqueness and everlasting value.

Each handcrafted necklace of the Royal Majestic Collection screams grandeur, wealth and value. They are absolutely versatile as they can be worn as a grand long centerpiece or by detaching the tassels that can be worn as a pair of matching earrings, and even by detaching the pendant to wear with a plain chain. They are 22 karat solid gold creations, Pure Brilliance SWAROVSKY Cubic Zirconia or genuine coloured stone encrusted necklaces that come with a 1 gm branded gold coin. Royal Majestic Collection with many designs. Ideal for gift giving, to pass on to the next generation and as a sound investment, these masterpieces are absolutely stunning creations.

Vogue Lace Collection, inspired by the traditional Beeralu lace is an intricately hand-crafted Diamond and Pearl encrusted 22 karat fine jewellery. As delicate as lace in their appearance, the luxury collection of necklaces and choker necklaces are truly exotic. Handcrafted to perfection, every necklace of this signature collection reflects mastery in design, craftsmanship and sheer elegance.

The newest array of Diamond Necklaces and Earrings released at the Vogue jewellery show brings a distinctly modern point of view to Diamond jewellery. Inspired by Vogue’s rich heritage in Diamond jewellery, the newest Vogue Diamond Collection comprises necklaces and earrings, accented with white gold, and in the case of some, rose gold, for that touch of colour. Each creation offers optimal style versatility with maximum sparkle.

In addition to the three new collections that were released at the jewellery show, the complete set of the 22 karat Kandyan Bridal Jewellery was paraded. Inspired by the much-revered Lotus, the divine symbol of purity, resilience and faithfulness, the Vogue collection is a made-to-order complete set of Kandyan bridal jewellery that includes the headdress and its accompaniments, earrings, seven necklaces, waist chain and the bangles. Available as a complete set or as individual items, it is a collection for those seek evolved designs in keeping with local traditions.

The jewellery show was choreographed by renowned Designer and Fashion Consultant, Michael Wijesuriya. Channa Wijewardena’s dance troupe lead by Aseka Wijewardena and Opera singer Stephane Siriwardhena added colour to the event. An elegant coffee table book was introduced to the distinguished invitees. The Kandyan bride was dressed by the popular bridal dresser, Mr. Dhananjaya Bandara.As with any item available at Vogue, the new collections too come with a lifetime guarantee. Visit the Vogue flagship store at Colpetty or any of its branches in Nugegoda, Kandy, Negombo and Kurunegala.

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Innovate Lanka concludes with Demo Day and Finale

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Innovate Lanka recently concluded with its 2022 Demo Day and Finale, where 10 finalists pitched their exceptional ideas to a high profile panel that encompassed Corporate Leaders, Domain Experts and Angel Investors.

Adjudged this year’s winner, AGC Innovate (Pvt) Ltd is a sustainable initiative pioneering technology to convert non-recyclable waste plastics into an industrial raw material called Plastic Modified Asphalt Concrete (PMAC) in Sri Lanka, which will be used for paving roads, car parks and yards. Since its inception in 2018, the company has already completed more than 15 projects, including for RDA, PRDA, Cargills (Ceylon) PLC, John Keells Holdings (Cinnamon Life and Crescat), CBL, French Embassy, etc.

The runner-up for 2022 was DirectPay (Pvt) Ltd, which connects everyone digitally, bringing them one step closer to a cashless society, by introducing modern payment methods for the financial and telecom industries. DirectPay is a FinTech application that provides direct debit facilities, Internet Payment Gateway and LankaQR and JustPay (National QR) technologies to enable customers to make payments across any boundary.

Also awarded was the “Best Female Entrepreneur” title, which was handed out to Bluefish Ceylon (Pvt) Ltd. This fish food manufacturer is dedicated to providing ready-to-eat, flavourful, and nutrient-dense fish products made with hand-picked natural ingredients with an authentic and distinct taste, while adhering to 100% hygiene standards.

A national initiative bringing together Sri Lanka’s main startup and SME ecosystem partners, Innovate Lanka is a program initiated by the Council for Startups (CFS) of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM). This program will ideally also serve up the systematic change required to rebuild Sri Lanka, by providing personalized support for every entrepreneur while offering a one-stop-shop for incubation and acceleration, until exit, at the global level.

In addition to the winner, runner-up and “Best Female Entrepreneur” title holders, the Innovate Lanka Demo Day and Finale also offered up presentations by other top 10 finalists. These included WorkXFlow (Pvt) Ltd, EDUS Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, INGROW Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, Ceylon Dhee Ayurved (Pvt) Ltd, Stag Space (Pvt) Ltd, Edutoys (Pvt) Ltd and CrossBorder Payments (Pvt) Ltd.

Garnering an exemplary 70+ entries during its initial, applications stage, Innovate Lanka later went on to thoroughly vet these submissions, ultimately whittling down its pool of startups and SMEs to just the top 10. This was achieved via an intensive pitching and evaluation process, which was facilitated by LAN.

Said LAN Chairperson Chandi Dharmaratne; “We at LAN, along with our global, national and eco-system partners, and the many incubators and accelerators that participated, are committed to supporting SMEs and entrepreneurs during the tough economic times ahead. Programs such as Innovate Lanka will keep dreams of scaling alive, until such time as our economy recovers and more startups and SMEs can bootstrap themselves into the global marketplace.”

Commenting further, CFS Chairman Prajeeth Balasubramaniam said; “Entrepreneurship is critical to stimulate long-term economic growth and national prosperity. As an entrepreneur, today there is no one private sector body representing them to help in all spheres of growth at the different stages. Innovate Lanka platform was created with this in mind as a national initiative that brings all the start-up and SME ecosystem partners together”.

Adding to this, SLASSCOM Chairman Ashique Ali said; “We were happy to partner in this programme as start-ups play a significant role in innovation, creating social, economic, and environmental impact, and generating export revenue. There are a significant number of start-ups which have the potential to scale regionally and globally. SLASSCOM together with other ecosystem partners aim to support these startups through their incubation to scale up journey, realising SLASSCOM’s goal of catalysing 1000 startups by the year 2025.”

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LSEG Foundation joins ‘Manudam Mehewara’ initiative driven by corporate Sri Lanka

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Aiming to Assist Over 200,000 Vulnerable Families

The LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) Foundation pledged its support as a corporate donor of the ‘Manudam Mehewara’ emergency relief programme, initiated by Dialog Axiata PLC, MAS Holdings, Hemas Holdings PLC, execution partner Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and independent auditor PwC Sri Lanka, together with corporate partners CBL Group, Citibank, Sunshine Holdings PLC, Huawei Technologies Lanka Co., Pvt Ltd, and Unilever Sri Lanka.

 Launched to support over 200,000 vulnerable families and communities across the country amidst the ongoing economic crisis, the ‘Manudam Mehewara’ initiative has currently distributed emergency relief across all 25 districts in Sri Lanka, where over 115,000 families in-need have been assisted to date. The Manudam Mehewara programme will conduct its relief efforts until a sustainable benefit transfer system is established in the country through an effective economic recovery plan.

 Speaking on the occasion, Pulasthika Wirasinha – Head of Human Resources, LSEG Sri Lanka stated, “It has been inspiring to witness the many corporates who have stepped up to the frontline of Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. At LSEG, we embody the spirit of empowering communities, and we would like to thank the Manudam Mehewara corporate coalition for the opportunity to help in this time of need”.

 Addressing the gathering, Hong Zhou Wong – Group Chief Financial Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC commented “Dialog along with our corporate partners rose to the call of need in early April by initiating Manudam Mehewara with the aim of assisting and supporting the most impacted communities across Sri Lanka in the backdrop of devastating economic hardship. Our partners and donors have not only contributed their financial aid to this initiative but also their resources and expertise to pave the road to recovery for Sri Lanka. On behalf of Manudam Mehewara, I would like to thank LSEG for joining us in this effort. Since April, Manudam Mehewara has supported over 115,000 families across all districts, but our journey has only just begun as we aim to reach 200,000 families. To see our mission to fruition, I urge other like-minded corporate partners to join us in this collective force for good”.

Manudam Mehewara invites all Sri Lankans and corporates to join its shared mission of supporting the most vulnerable families across the country and contributing to this cause. Individuals can now simply donate via their credit/debit card on the website – https://dlg.lk/donate/  or through a bank transfer, Star Points transfer, eZ Cash, genie, or even through a mobile top-up to 077 642 1421. Donors can also conveniently donate through a range of payment options via www.karuna.lk, Sri Lanka’s First Cause-verified Crowdfunding Platform.

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