By Sean Van Dort, Chairman Logistics Sub Committee – Joint Apparel Association Forum
In shipping and logistics, persistence pays. After 2 years of increasing congestion and unprecedented increases in freight rates, there are finally signs that the situation is improving. The majority of Asia’s largest ports are finally showing signs of congestion easing, just ahead of the holiday season.
These improvements couldn’t have come at a better time given that maritime freight rates had been on an upward trend since the second half of 2020. As at September 2021, rates had increased by a stunning 292% Year-on-Year (YoY)1 .
While the consensus is that freight rates would not normalize till at least the end of 2022, they also appear unlikely to increase much further at present, given that two of the world’s top container lines have recently pledged to freeze their spot rates and put off any further increases in spot freight rates for containerized cargo. Barring any further unforeseen disruptions, and supported by similar measures from other carriers we could see further improvements in freight rates much earlier than what was initially projected.
Naturally, these developments have major positive implications for Sri Lankan exporters broadly, and apparel manufacturers, and their buyers in particular, as input costs begin to normalize and bottom-line pressure eases across the board.
Unprecedented challenges met with unsurpassed agility
Prior to COVID, Sri Lanka was one of South Asia’s most connected nations – both in terms of shipping and air travel. Given Sri Lanka’s ideal geographic location, and booming tourism industry at that time. This meant on average, Sri Lanka had on average 200 ships on a monthly basis, and a further 78 flights and freighter operations moving in and out of the country on a weekly basis.
At the peak of the pandemic and lockdowns while the port experienced berthing congestion the total passenger aircraft reduced to zero, and eventually 1 ship and then none at all. While those numbers have since improved, in the interim, it was up to the Sri Lankan logistics industry to keep the country’s exporters afloat, by ensuring that Sri Lanka’s manufactured goods made their way to buyers despite every challenge that arose.
The apparel sector – which accounts for close to 40% of Sri Lanka’s exports, had to take the lead in innovating solutions to the crisis. For the first time, air freight was leveraged above maritime routes in order to import the majority of raw materials, and to even export orders that would have been delayed if we waited for the shipping crisis to resolve.
With Sri Lanka entering its most intense lockdown phase, and airports closing, the industry immediately pivoted to partnerships with specialist freighters until passenger and cargo aircraft could resume. With the situation having improved significantly since then, Sri Lanka’s logistics sector has had its mettle tested, and we have proved our ability to meet unprecedented challenges with outstanding agility. Our success in the face of such immense difficulties is no accident either.
Especially for apparel logistics: time is money
Sri Lanka’s trusted reputation as a leading global powerhouse in apparel is the result of multiple factors – our dedication to quality, our investments in our people, and in technology. But the business of apparel is not just delivering quality, it’s delivering on time.
Everyone understands that fashion and apparel are notoriously fast-paced businesses. With apparel accounting for the vast majority of Sri Lanka’s exports, this has meant that Sri Lankan apparel and logistics firms had to collaborate in order to match international requirements. Hence apparel has played a major role in elevating Sri Lanka into its current position among the most agile supply chains in Asia.
Given Sri Lanka’s ideal location, the island attracts feeder vessels from across the region, meaning that Colombo is often the last port of call in Asia before vessels embark to Western ports. Additionally, most of Sri Lankan Apparel’s buyers tend to have forward contracts already in place with major shipping lines, which means that wherever possible, vessels are legally obligated to call Colombo. While providing immediate benefits to the apparel sector, this also creates opportunities for other Sri Lankan exporters as well.
Given that relative to commodities, apparel adds less weight to ships, it is often the final item to be loaded as cargo, meaning that it can also be unloaded faster. Such minor advantages add up to immense time saving at scale. The same is also true for other Sri Lankan exports.
Internally, Sri Lanka’s logistical capabilities are unmatched, and the industry can confidently guarantee that cargo can be moved from any point in the country and transported into an international port and be ready for loading within 24 hours.
DIMO CERTIFIED guarantees peace of mind for vehicle owners seeking a luxury upgrade
DIMO, one of the leading conglomerates in Sri Lanka, is providing customers who are planning to buy pre-owned luxury vehicles, with speedy, hassle-free, trusted service, through its pre-owned vehicle sales arm ‘DIMO CERTIFIED’.
With the re-launch of DIMO CERTIFIED in 2019, the company has expanded its range of pre-owned vehicles beyond Mercedes-Benz & Jeep models by also offering hand-picked and well-maintained Luxury European vehicle brands registered within the past 10 years, under one roof.
With its 80 year history, DIMO offers unparalleled trust and reliability of expertise in the automotive industry where all vehicles come with a minimum of One Year warranty against unlimited mileage. All vehicles handpicked by DIMO CERTIFIED are guaranteed to have genuine mileage with precise servicing and maintenance since the day of import to the country. Vehicles that are bought from DIMO CERTIFIED are assured of a high resale value due to the comprehensive checks done at the time of purchase for resale and thereafter being refurbished to a standard ‘as Good as New’. In the event the new buyer is selling the vehicle at some point in the future, DIMO CERTIFIED also offers a guaranteed buy back facility.
Customers can avail themselves to attractive Personal Contract Plans with lowest interest rates from some of Sri Lanka’s leading financial institutions where they can drive away in their new Luxury European vehicle by making only a 30% down payment. In the event the buyer decides to upgrade to another vehicle prior to the end of the leasing period, DIMO will also step in to settle the balance payment immediately and extend the opportunity to trade-in for another vehicle of their choice.
The highly-reliable DIMO 24-hour Roadside Assistance provides customers ‘peace of mind’ wherever they travel in their vehicle as expert help during a rare breakdown is only a phone call away.
General Manager – DIMO CERTIFIED Pre-Owned Vehicles of DIMO, Tharanga Gunawardena stated, “We have been able to successfully elevate the pre-owned business to a whole new level through our DIMO CERTIFIED service. We have enhanced our services by adding several attractive features to set the benchmark for the automobile industry. Those who want to realize their aspiration of owning a Mercedes-Benz, Jeep or any other Luxury European vehicle need not look elsewhere.”
All the vehicles available at DIMO CERTIFIED along with special offers are displayed on the www.carsatdimo.lk website and provides a hassle-free way for prospective buyers to access all key details. Customers are assured of the best prices when purchasing their vehicle while special trade-in options are also available for regular customers. With highly-experienced technical professionals providing the best after-sales service, DIMO CERTIFIED customers can enjoy a hassle-free experience with their Luxury European vehicle. A dedicated WhatsApp number 0771449797 has been made available for customers to contact a Sales Consultant directly to enquire about any product or offer listed on the website.
Women in Management, IFC and Government of Australia recognise inspiring women from Sri Lanka and Maldives
The ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021 – hosted by Women in Management (WIM), in collaboration with Women in Work, a partnership between IFC and the government of Australia – recently honoured inspiring professional and career women in Sri Lanka and Maldives making a mark in their respective fields.
The 11th edition of the awards ceremony celebrated women representing a wide array of professions from industries including hospitality, banking and finance, logistics and supply chains, entrepreneurship, and media and law, among others, for excellence in either their chosen careers or for inspiring women in their community. The awards also lauded Sri Lankan corporates that have supported the growth and empowerment of women in the workplace.
Top awards were conferred to Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy (Inspirational Professional Woman of the Year), Prof. Nadira Karunaweera (Inspirational Woman of the Year), Aruni Goonetilleke (Trail Blazer), Randhula De Silva (Game Changer of the Year) and Dr. Vajira Chithrasena (Judges Award). The full list of awardees is listed below.
“The 2021 awards are a celebration of resilience, optimism, hard work and growth. As we step into a third year of a pandemic, this year’s winners remind us of the possibilities and opportunities that can exist in adversity,” said Dr. Sulochana Segera, Founder/Chairperson of Women in Management (WIM). “They also remind us of the extraordinary potential women in Sri Lanka and the Maldives are capable of, especially in challenging the status-quo for greater good. Women are often hesitant to take their spot in the limelight, but over the past decade, the Top50 Awards have created a platform helping them showcase their talents and achievements, and importantly to inspire others.”
With over 470 past award winners, the ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards aim to showcase the significant role women play as leaders, employees, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders in contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the country.
Marking IFC’s seventh consecutive year in co-hosting the event, Victor Antonypillai, Acting Country Manager for IFC Sri Lanka and Maldives said, that “To ensure a resilient recovery, the path should be gender inclusive – women should be at the heart of the path to recovery. We need to ‘build forward fairer’ for economies and societies to build back better.” Supported through the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program, this year’s Top50 Awards aims to showcase the resilient leadership Sri Lankan women have shown, amid a pandemic.
Also, speaking at the event, David Holly, Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives remarked that, “Over the years, the ‘Top50’ Awards have shown the power of women in business inspiring many others in leadership and in society more generally. The 2022 Awards are a tribute to the resilience of Sri Lankan women, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021 were powered by Dialog, along with Gold Sponsors Salota International and Singer. Silver sponsors for the awards included Lanka IOC, Unilever, Vision Care and Aitken Spence. Maliban and Sampath Bank were also sponsors of the event, and the gifting Partner for the award ceremony was New Vivya.
Speaking of the award winners, Nadija Tambiah, Head of Legal, Secretarial and Corporate Social Responsibility at John Keells Holdings and Chair of 2021 Judging Panel, said that the “quality of the women who were nominated or who applied this year was impressive. We were forced not only to look at the accomplishments of these women in their chosen vocations but also what impact they have had in the industry and what they have done for women in their organisations.”
This year’s Judging Panel—chaired by Nadija Tambiah—included Jayanthi Dharmasena, Managing Director of Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Ltd; Kishu Gomes, Group MD/CEO of Dreamron Group of Companies; Nisthar Cassim, Founding Editor and CEO of Daily FT; Rohantha Athukorala, CEO of Clootrack Sri Lanka/Maldives & Pakistan; Sandra De Zoysa, Group Chief Customer Officer at Dialog Axiata PLC; Sandya Salgado, Strategic Marketing Professional; Santosh Menon, CEO of KL.LK; Amanda Jewell, Acting Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka; and Sarah Twigg, Program Manager for Women in Work at IFC.
Chrissworld engages CDS for registrar services
Central Depositary Systems (Pvt) Ltd (CDS), a fully owned subsidiary of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), has strengthened its client base for the provision of registrar services with the addition of Chrissworld PLC. The CDS will provide the listed company with a variety of services such as share ledger maintenance, virtual AGM’s and all types of corporate actions. The CDS plays a role in driving innovation and offering cost effective solutions with value additions.
Speaking at the development, the CEO of the CSE, Mr. Rajeeva Bandaranaike, said, “We welcome Chrissworld PLC to the CDS portfolio. The CDS is uniquely positioned to offer value added Registrar services to listed entities in Sri Lanka, and the CDS is very confident that Chrissworld PLC will fully benefit from the services provided .”
Chairman of Chrissworld PLC, Mr. Christopher Perera stated, “We are very pleased to sign this agreement with the CDS as the registrar. The process of working with the CDS has been a rewarding experience for Chrissworld PLC, and going forward, we are confident that there will be excellent co-operation between the two companies and that the CDS will efficiently manage all our affairs. “
Chrissworld PLC was founded in 2013 and provides third-party logistics services specializing in warehousing, inventory management, distribution, and transportation. The company was listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange on May 18th, 2021, the first ever company to be listed on the Empower Board.
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