Opportunity Sri Lanka
Invest in Sri Lanka to reap long term benefits says Unilever

Invest in Sri Lanka to reap long term benefits says Unilever

The Morning: Unilever Sri Lanka believes that investing in a country like Sri Lanka that struggled for a short time will reap benefits in the longer term as the company sees its fast-moving company goods (FMCG) volumes and values coming back since July with low inflation, Chairperson and Managing Director of Unilever Sri Lanka Hajar Alafifi said.
Speaking in an investor webinar organized by the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka on 26 August, she stated that in July 2023, Unilever Sri Lanka has started seeing their volumes and values back in growth with the disinflation path, protecting their Profit and Loss statement. Moreover, she said that a country to come out of a crisis such as Sri Lanka went through in 2022, within 6 months is formidable which has never been seen in any other country. “We should be looking at Sri Lanka in two ways, Sri Lanka before the crisis of 2022 and Sri Lanka after the crisis of 2022,” she noted.
Alafifi said that in the 85 years of doing business in Sri Lanka, Unilever Sri Lanka has never declined, either during the tsunami, the COVID-19 pandemic or the 2022 crisis. “I think this has given our shareholders a huge trust that the country is a fertile country and a country where the consumption is increasing,” she said.
She added that consumption is increasing in Sri Lanka not only because of the demographics but because the Sri Lankan consumer is far more literate and therefore, aspires for products up the ladder. “We have the highest GDP per capita in South Asia, meaning that even by selling little volumes, your revenues are going to be good,” she said.
Further, she said that after the crisis in 2022, many foreign companies operating in Sri Lanka decided to leave, “which I think is unfortunate because they have seen the country just in the short term,” she added.
“Actually, we have taken a different path. We believe that by investing in a country which is a little bit struggling in the short term, we will reap the better benefits in the longer term,” she said.
In fact, she noted that Unilever Sri Lanka recorded the highest record of growth in their 85 years of presence in Sri Lanka, in the crisis year 2022.
She said that the FMCG sector in Sri Lanka is at a good level as it always adopts EU and US regulations for the products, meaning for any international company selling their products in Sri Lanka is extremely easy.
She also said that Unilever Sri Lanka has invested about Rs 6 to 7 billion in a new factory for making malted drinks in January, even before the turnaround in interest rates. And have added 100 people to the workforce so far in 2023.
“This can be done because we have a seat at the table, because our voice is heard and we are able to discuss best practices internationally and apply those in Sri Lanka,” Alafifi said.

OSL take:

The statement by Unilever is an endorsement of Sri Lanka’s overall growth and business potential. The country’s economy is now on a growth path after facing the challenges posed by the global pandemic and the economic crisis that followed. Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean and the many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country have also helped the country get back on the growth path after facing external and internal challenges. The profits recorded by many businesses in the private sector and most of their global expansion programmers are indicative of the strength, resilience and the growing business potential in Sri Lanka. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore explore the expanding opportunities in Sri Lanka’s key economic sectors as well as in the development of supplementary infrastructure facilities in line with the overall development of the country. Foreign businesses could also look at forming partnerships or joint ventures with local businesses with the aim of expansion.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/20230905/Z_3

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