Heritance Aarah: First Resort in the Maldives to be listed as BBC Travel Partner

4 Sep

Aitken Spence Hotels’ premier all-inclusive resort in the Maldives, Heritance Aarah, received the rare honour of being listed a BBC Travel Partner; the first resort in the Maldives to receive the recognition.

Staying at a BBC travel partner means, guests can stay updated with the latest developments happening across the globe throughout their stay at Heritance Aarah.  The resort was also listed as a CNN Travel Partner in 2019.

Heritance Aarah has distinguished itself for its pioneering spirit since opening operations just over a year earlier. The resort was the first property in the Maldives to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for its sustainable design and operations. Heritance Aarah has also been ranked among the world’s best in Favourite Spa Hotel (International) and Favourite Beach Hotel (International) categories at the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards 2020 – Middle East.

Earlier this year, the resort team showed their prowess in the culinary world winning 13 medals at the IKA Culinary Olympics 2020, including four Gold awards. The team also excelled at the Culinary Food Expo in September (Known as South East Asia’s biggest Food and Hospitality Show) and Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives 2019 (FHAM) in the months prior.

The resort offers a plethora of exciting holiday experiences, including excursions and a kids club, to meet the expectations of their global clientele. The 150-villa resort with its dine around option features 11 F&B outlets lead by award winning chefs. The resort also introduced the medical spa concept to Maldives holidays makers. The resort is renowned for its own unique Medi-Spa experience, combining wellness and rejuvenation with world-class equipment and treatments.

Heritance Aarah strives to curate inimitable experiences for those who dream of the ultimate paradise vacation. Merging traditions of the Maldives with world-class comfort and superior offerings, the resort has become a favourite in demand among travelers from the world over.

After a hiatus owing to the pandemic, the resort will recommence operations from 1 September 2020, with attractive rates on reservations. For more information, log on to http://www.heritancehotels.com/aarah

Heritance Aarah is part of the Heritance Hotels and Resorts brand of Aitken Spence Hotels, the hospitality arm of Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC. Aitken Spence Hotels operates 23 hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India under the Heritance, Adaaran and Turyaa brands, popular around the world for exceptional service, undisputed product and curated lifestyle experiences.

Aitken Spence’s Logilink certified for Environmental Sustainability, Occupational Health & Safety

20 Aug

An Aitken Spence Logistics company, Logilink (Pvt) Ltd., became the first container freight station in Sri Lanka to be certified for both ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 management systems. The certifications were awarded for environmental management and occupational health & safety respectively by SGS Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., covering the export cargo consolidation operations at its fully-fledged container freight station at 309/4A, Negombo Road, Welisara.

Logilink (Pvt) Ltd. offers export cargo consolidation services to a prestigious clientele consisting of several top international clothing brands.

ISO 14001:2015 specifies benchmarks to establish environmental impact controls whereas ISO 45001:2018 specifies standards for occupational health and safety (OHS). These management systems guide operations to map and monitor their environmental performance as well as OHS risks to all key stakeholders, thereby enabling proactive mechanisms to protect the environment and their key stakeholders.

“As the pioneer container freight station operator in the country, our teams are mindful of their responsibilities to set a precedent in providing sustainable services. It is through their efforts that we were able to set an industry benchmark by receiving both ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 certifications for our Logilink facility. Both certifications reflect our commitments towards environmental sustainability and the health & safety of our staff and partners. This will undoubtedly help us serve our customers better and meet the needs of our international clientele”, commented Mr. Janaka Gunawardena – Chief Operating Officer of Aitken Spence Logistics.

Aitken Spence Logistics is one of the leading integrated logistics service providers in the country. The company operates container freight stations, inland container terminals, container repair & rigging facilities and provides with transportation & distribution, warehousing & third-party logistics management and project cargo logistics solutions precisely meeting the logistics requirements of a diverse pool of customers, both locally and internationally.

Aitken Spence shows strong comeback in Q1 through improved performance in the month of June 2020

14 Aug

Aitken Spence PLC made a strong comeback in the month of June 2020 with the Group’s main sectors excluding tourism recording a growth in profits compared to June 2019, despite the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on overall economic activity. It is noteworthy that three main sectors of the Group; maritime & freight logistics, strategic investments and services collectively recorded a profit of Rs. 513 million during the quarter with the performance of these sectors improving steadily month on month.

The tourism sector of the Group both in Sri Lanka and overseas was significantly impacted due to the global pandemic and lockdown in the country during April and May 2020, resulting in the first quarter ending 30th June 2020 recording a loss of Rs. 1.5 billion compared to Rs. 216.7 million profit attributable to the shareholders in the previous year.

Resilience was seen in the Group’s diversified business portfolio and strategic direction, particularly, in integrated logistics, plantations, elevator agency, insurance and money transfer services that was commendable amidst unprecedented challenges.

The maritime & freight logistics sector performed remarkably under challenging conditions to deliver a profit-before-tax (PBT) of Rs. 459 million. Most companies within the maritime and freight logistics sector, operated continuously without a disruption during the quarter under review with increase in profits from the integrated logistics segment and airline cargo division of 58% and 71% respectively over the last year. Another outstanding sector performance was recorded by the elevator agency, insurance, money transfer segments in the services sector recording PBT of Rs. 96 million.

The strategic investments sector recorded a loss of Rs. 42.4 million for the three months ended 30th June 2020 due to foreign exchange translation losses arising from the strengthening of the rupee by nearly 2% during the quarter, although the plantations segment recorded an excellent performance with a growth in profit of more than 350% over the previous year and the power generation segment also making a noteworthy contribution to profits.   

The devasting effects of the COVID-19 and its aftermath that affected global tourism had also impacted our tourism sector’s results during the quarter resulting in a loss of Rs. 2.8 billion for the three months ended 30th June 2020.  

“Despite challenging times, we are pleased to be seen in the forefront of showcasing business resilience. I express my deep gratitude to our Chairman and Board of Directors for their guidance and strategic direction. I also wholeheartedly thank our Spensonians for their unstinted commitment and dedication especially during these turbulent times,” said Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

“Aitken Spence is a company that has proven that our strength is in our diversity and we are confident that business will bounce back, and our efforts will continue to this end,” he added further.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983 and marking its 150th year milestone in 2018, Aitken Spence is a blue-chip conglomerate with a strong regional presence in hotels, travels, maritime, freight and logistic solutions, plantations, power generation, financial outsourcing, insurance, printing, apparel and other services.

Turyaa Chennai – First hotel in India to be Bureau Veritas certified for safety & hygiene

27 Jul

Bureau Veritas, a well-known global risk assessment company, reviewed the 140-room city hotel located in the heart of Chennai’s IT Corridor. The verification encompassed its extensive health and safety measures and enhanced protocols introduced at the outset of the global outbreak of COVID-19. The process examined all operational aspects of the hotel from guest, staff and supplier touch points to awareness creation and information dissemination.

The certification criteria are based on policies, procedures and resources implemented by the hotel to manage the hygiene and social distancing risks in the current context. The assessment and disclosures were completed in accordance with applicable standards to testing, certification and inspection of businesses.

Turyaa Chennai, along with the portfolio of other Aitken Spence Hotels, is committed to assist national and international objectives and efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Turyaa Chennai together with Aitken Spence Hotels’ other properties in Sri Lanka, Maldives and Oman, devised a risk management procedure for COVID-19 which is in line with the Company’s risk management strategy.

Premier hospitality company Aitken Spence Hotels’ operation in India – Turyaa Chennai – has been certified by Bureau Veritas for safety & hygiene procedures and processes that are in line with globally recognised best practices to mitigate COVID-19 – becoming the first hotel or resort in India to receive the certification.

Moreover, the blueprint ‘SpenceSafe’ was prepared to face the anticipated effects of the global pandemic during the short to medium, and long term. The blueprint was shared among Turyaa Chennai’s partners and guests, outlining the efforts in place to inspire confidence and travel (www.turyaachennai.com/spencesafe).  A safety video can be found on the YouTube channel of Aitken Spence Hotels.

Aitken Spence Hotels, the hospitality arm of Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC operates 23 hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India. The Company’s owned hotels are reflected under the Heritance, Adaaran and Turyaa brands, popular around the world for exceptional service, undisputed product and curated lifestyle experiences.

Heritance Hotels and Resorts rank high on Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards 2020

24 Jul

Aitken Spence Hotels’ premier brand Heritance Hotels and Resorts was recognised at Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards Middle East 2020 with Heritance Kandalama, Sri Lanka, and Heritance Aarah, Maldives, stealing the limelight. Heritance Hotels and Resorts was the only Sri Lankan hotel chain to be recognised in this travel and hospitality awards programme based on unbiased readers’ votes.

Heritance Hotels and Resorts is part of the local hospitality powerhouse Aitken Spence Hotels and has over the years curated a unique hotel experience with a carefully crafted mélange of locality, tradition, service and world-class comfort. The Heritance brand of hotels represent five resorts in Sri Lanka and one in the Maldives. Each hotel is distinct for its location which plays a key role in shaping the experience of the bespoke holidays it offers.

Heritance Kandalama, the architectural masterpiece designed by renowned architect Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa was ranked number one as the most Favourite Hotel for Design (International) among hotels and resorts around the world. The resort has been a phenomenon since its inception, not only for its architecture but for its eco-aesthetic as well. Conceptualized 26 years ago, well-ahead of the eco-sustainability trend, Heritance Kandalama has been the recipient of a wide array of international accolades and awards.

Heritance Aarah, was ranked among the world’s best in Favourite Spa Hotel (International) and Favourite Beach Hotel (International) categories. The latest in the Heritance portfolio, Heritance Aarah is a premium all-inclusive 150-villa resort in the Maldives. Just a year since opening its doors, the resort offers an inimitable experience which includes the first of its kind medi-spa and a dine-around with 11 restaurants and bars. From the inception, the hotel has become superlative for excellence, from their culinary experience to the eco-friendly design of the property.

The 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards Middle East honour hotels, resorts and restaurants that have created lasting memories for guests. The programme also gives valuable insights about the expectations of regional travelers.

“I wholeheartedly thank the hard work of my exceptional teams and am grateful to all those who voted for us. It’s important to celebrate these achievements especially during an extremely challenging time and we strive forward with confidence,” commented Stasshani Jayawardena, Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism and Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotel Managements.

While the past few months have seen the tourism industry take a toll due to the global pandemic, achievements such as these reiterate the value placed on Heritance Hotels and Resorts by the global traveller.

Heritance Hotels and Resorts is part of the Aitken Spence Hotels, the hospitality arm of Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC which operates 23 hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India. The Company’s owned hotels are reflected under the Heritance, Adaaran and Turyaa brands, popular around the world for exceptional service, undisputed product and curated lifestyle experiences. The Company’s Sri Lankan portfolio includes 11 resorts spread across the island, whilst the Maldives resorts totals to seven, four in Oman and one in India.

Aitken Spence successfully conducts first virtual AGM

8 Jul

Aitken Spence PLC achieved yet another milestone in its 150+ year legacy by conducting the company’s first virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 30th June 2020. Whilst being among the country’s first companies to transition successfully to virtual AGMs, Aitken Spence is also leading the way among the diversified holdings companies to host a virtual AGM. The 68th AGM was conducted at Aitken Spence Towers on Vauxhall Street, conforming with the health and safety regulations issued by the Government of Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The session was hosted live for shareholders via the Zoom Application.

The Board of Directors of Aitken Spence PLC assembled in the corporate board room whilst maintaining social distancing protocols. The shareholders joined the meeting from various locations via Zoom.

Commending the efforts of the Group, Chairman of Aitken Spence PLC, Deshamanya D H S Jayawardena said “In these times, adaptability and resilience are crucial traits for the sustainability of any organisation. It was heartening to see the company’s efforts to ensure continuity of operations also being supported by the relevant regulators with their recommendations and guidelines. Every challenge is also an opportunity for growth, and I congratulate the team of Aitken Spence PLC for taking the reins to adapt to the new working order.”

All attendees were able to view and participate in proceedings, were able to vote online on all resolutions and were encouraged to actively participate at the meeting. Furthermore, shareholders were enabled to participate in online voting on a single platform which facilitated a seamless engagement.  This was another unique feature of the online meeting.

Moreover, the online platform facilitated an interactive Q&A session with the Board of Directors.

The co-ordination of the event was entirely handled in-house by the Company Secretarial Division and the Group’s Information Technology Division, with assistance from AV Productions who facilitated the audio/visual aspects.

Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC also conducted its 43rd Annual General Meeting as a virtual AGM on the same day and in the same manner.

With an indisputable repute as one of Sri Lanka’s pioneering corporates, Aitken Spence is anchored to a heritage of excellence spanning over 150 years. Listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983, Aitken Spence is a responsible enterprise driven by over 13,000 employees across 16 businesses in 9 countries. Creating opportunities for Sri Lanka across new frontiers, Aitken Spence PLC is an organisation committed to the development of Sri Lanka.

Aitken Spence Hotels launch ‘SpenceSafe’ safety guidelines for guests

30 Jun

Premier hospitality company, Aitken Spence Hotels recently launched ‘SpenceSafe’, a complete guide to health & safety in support of the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The blueprint, accessible on their website (aitkenspencehotels.com/spencesafe) and shared with their key travel and trade partners, aims to reassure guests and restore their confidence by sharing their comprehensive and cohesive health & safety procedures over all functions.

The Group has 22 hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, Maldives, India and Oman under its brands Heritance Hotels and Resorts, Adaaran Resorts, and Turyaa as well as its managed properties. Collectively, the Aitken Spence Hotels have taken a holistic and precautionary approach benchmarked to global best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Company is gradually opening their doors to welcome guests, with Earl’s Regent being the first to open at the beginning of June 2020, followed by Bandarawela Hotel, Amethyst Resort Passikudah Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Negombo, Earl’s Regency and Turyaa Kalutara in July. Heritance Ahungalla and Tea Factory are scheduled to open in October and November respectively.

‘SpenceSafe’ explains precautionary measures implemented as well as the expectation of guests’ responsibility. For the benefit of guests, the document explains procedures to be followed from the point of making a reservation, arriving at the hotel, check-in, accommodation, dining, use of meeting and conference venues and public spaces and recreation. Developed under the second phase of the Company’s Risk Mitigation Strategy, the document provides guidance to all guests, staff and supplier touchpoints to assure safe and carefree travel for all stakeholders when the hotels and resorts reopen in the next few weeks.

“The wellbeing of our guests has always been of paramount importance to us,” said Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism and Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotel Managements Stasshani Jayawardena. “We believe our legacy in hospitality is based on providing a superior experience to our guests by going the extra mile. Throughout our hotels, we serve with warmth and care, inherent qualities of being a local brand taking our well-known hospitality to the world. While we open our doors after a hiatus, we are keen to reacquaint our guests with our customary hospitality, only made better with the enhanced safety protocols.”

Adding to the sentiments, Aitken Spence Hotels Managing Director Susith Jayawickrama asserted, “Collectively, our hotels have taken stringent precautions to ensure the safety and health of all stakeholders, and to reassure peace of mind for our guests who have been anticipating a holiday at our resorts.” The practices outlined are based on local and international health & safety standards and have been strengthened by in-house expertise.

“We believe in creating a safe environment for our guests; promoting hassle-free travel to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy a much-needed break which is worth the wait,” he said.

The safety precautions will be constantly monitored by the Company’s Risk Response Team and will evolve with the changing global and national needs.

Furthermore, the Group used the lockdown period to educate their staff on emergency response, recognising symptoms and to familiarise them on other emerging protocols for post-lockdown operations following the SpenceSafe initiatives. The staff have also been educated on the heightened hygiene standards and safety guidelines to be followed both at work and at home as well, reiterating the Group’s commitment towards mitigating any contagion.

“Our Company has always followed international guidelines for health & safety, environmental protection and quality. For example, we maintain HACCP/ ISO 22000: 2005 certified food safety management systems. These industry benchmarks have paved the way for not only operational efficiencies and high-quality standards but for responsible tourism practices maintained across all our operations,” Jayawickrama assured. Aitken Spence Hotels look forward to welcoming all guests with hospitality from the heart at a safe haven while you are away from home.

Elpitiya Plantations partners with Sim Leisure to commence work for ESCAPE theme park in Galle

25 Jun

Elpitiya Plantations PLC an associate company of Aitken Spence PLC, recently entered into a Shareholders’ Agreement with Sim Leisure Group Ltd., a listed company in Singapore Stock Exchange, to develop and operate an adventure theme park under the ‘ESCAPE’ brand in Galle, Sri Lanka. While the partnership will formalise and strengthen the business relationship between the two companies, this is an extraordinary step from both parties amid the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country and shows the confidence on the government foreign investment policy.

‘ESCAPE’ will bring their well-known philosophy for theme parks to Sri Lanka with a unique state-of-the art adventure park. Moreover, the project is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and obviously the first in Regional Plantation Companies. A few unique features of the park would be;

  • Longest waterslide in Sri Lanka at around 800m
  • The first chairlift experience in Sri Lanka
  • Cascaded flying fox and other exciting games

The construction of Phase 1 of ESCAPE Sri Lanka on 30 acres is scheduled to commence in the financial year ending 31 December 2020, targeting to open for the public beginning of FY2021. ESCAPE Sri Lanka will be situated in the Galle district.

This will be an attraction for Sri Lanka’s largely untapped domestic tourism sector, which has increased over the years, whilst strengthening leisure & entertainment options for international tourists.  The theme park will also integrate well with the Government’s efforts to strengthen the tourism sector and to promote destination Sri Lanka. What’s more, this is likely to create ripple effects for the economy by attracting more investments into districts outside Colombo and by creating employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for the local communities.

Sim Leisure is a leading theme park developer and operator based in Malaysia (under ESCAPE brand). Over the past 25 years, Sim Leisure has completed more than 300 projects, including Bollywood and Motiongate (Dubai), Yas Waterworld (Abu Dhabi), Legoland (Denmark and Malaysia), and Universal Studios (Singapore).

Aitken Spence ranks in the Top 3 Best Conglomerate Brands 2020

17 Jun

Aitken Spence was ranked among the top three best conglomerate brands 2020 compiled in a special edition by LMD. In the last rankings, Aitken Spence was ranked among the top 10 conglomerates and moved up six positions in 2020. The 17th annual review of Sri Lanka’s most valuable brands is produced through an in-depth analysis conducted by Brand Finance Lanka, a pioneering brand valuation and strategy firm.

The organisation was rated based on the following attributes; corporate vision, reputation or image, degree of innovation and quality consciousness. Aitken Spence achieved a competitive score of 82.58 from 100.

During the financial year 2019-2020, Aitken Spence reached several milestones. Most notable is the company’s investment in Sri Lanka’s first waste to energy project; The plant is 88% complete and is expected to commence operations during 2020-2021, solving two national crises with one effective solution. Aitken Spence also introduced LEED certified architecture to Maldives with the launch of Heritance Aarah which is the first property in the Maldives to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status.

Elpitiya Plantations PLC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sim Leisure Group Ltd, a leading theme park developer and operator based in Penang, Malaysia, to set up a world-class theme park in the Galle district.

“We have been at the forefront of pioneering sustainable investments in the country; using our expertise, investment capacity, access to technology and strong partnerships to be a catalyst for socio-economic progress. Moreover, having interwoven sustainability into our strategy for over a decade, we have made a mark of raising the bar for the country’s corporate sector. Continuing ongoing work and initiating new efforts, we invested Rs. 70 million towards sustainability processes and action plans in the financial year.

We are the winner of the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award for three successive years, while being the only company in Sri Lanka to be ranked among the Top 10 Best Corporate Citizens for an unprecedented 14 consecutive years. Aitken Spence PLC has consistently ranked among the Top 10 Most Respected Entities in Sri Lanka by LMD. These recognitions reflect our commitment and efforts to sustain the triple bottom line with emphasis on the fourth P which is processes. We are committed to contribute positively towards the sustainable development of Sri Lanka,” commented Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

Aitken Spence records profit of Rs. 4.2 billion in 2019-2020 amidst unprecedented challenges

26 May

The year under review experienced two black swan events with their distinctive and severe impacts within the space of one year. Aitken Spence PLC remained resilient despite these challenges due to the Group’s diversified business portfolio and strategic direction.

The Group’s financial performance for the twelve months ending 31st March 2020 recorded a year-on-year profit-before-tax of Rs. 4.2 billion compared Rs. 7.3 billion last year.

Despite considerable economic headwinds the organisation’s agile strategy was reflected in the earnings from the overseas businesses that contributed 39% compared to 43% last year. This underlined the exceptional relationships that have been built with global industry players across the key sectors. The Group’s businesses from the domestic market derived 61% earnings of the Group’s PBT for 2019/2020 compared to 57% in the previous year.

The total revenue of the Group ending 31st March 2020 was Rs. 53.5 billion, a 4% drop from the previous year, primarily due to a reduction of revenue from the Tourism sector which was affected by the significant impacts mentioned above. However, the drop was compensated by the commencement of the operations during the third quarter of the year of Heritance Aarah, the flagship hotel in the Maldives.

The total assets of the Group increased by 14% to Rs. 140 billion. The Group invested Rs. 10 billion in capital expenditure across many sectors with the highest investment incurred in the power generation segment to fund the construction of the pioneering waste to energy power project, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. This reflects the organisation’s confidence in its future earnings growth capacity.

The Group’s expansion increased to 9 countries as the Maritime & Freight Logistics sector re-established its presence in South Africa whilst the Tourism sector commenced operations in Myanmar during the year.

The launch of Heritance Aarah was a key milestone in the Tourism portfolio as it was the first time that the Heritance brand was launched overseas. Heritance Aarah is the first LEED certified building in the Maldives reflecting their commitment to sustainable and energy efficient design. Heritance Aarah has also set the bar for culinary excellence in this popular tourist destination emerging victorious in the World Culinary Olympics in Germany, having also won the Maldivian and Sri Lankan competitions during the year.

The Tourism sector recorded a loss before tax of Rs. 15.3 million compared to a profit of Rs. 3.1 billion last year. This sector was hardest hit by the Easter terror attacks at the beginning of the year with dramatic declines in tourist arrivals in the following months. Overall, performance of the overseas Tourism sector was dampened by the increased depreciation and interest costs related to Heritance Aarah which is inevitable due to the capital intensive and long-term nature of the industry.

Heritance Kandalama and Heritance Tea Factory made profits despite the setbacks. This was owing to the differentiated marketing strategy that helped to mitigate losses, carving out a niche that could be finetuned to enhance yields over time. Aitken Spence Travels handled around 14% of organised tourist arrivals to country underlying its position as the market leader and providing a healthy contribution to the Group and the country, to accelerate and strengthen the recovery of this key economic sector. Additionally, Airline General Sales Agency business added another regional passenger carrier to its portfolio which is expected to commence operations in the new financial year.

The Maritime & Freight Logistics sector contributed an outstanding profit before tax of Rs. 2.25 billion which was once again the largest contributor accounting for 54% of the Group profits. The resumption of operations in South Africa, completed a short-term assignment which supported the performance of the sector.

The Sri Lankan operations of the Maritime & Freight Logistics sector also recorded an increase in operating profits despite a significant decline in trade volumes due to global trade tensions and import restrictions. Integrated logistics performed very well by securing new multinational clients through service excellence.

The Strategic Investments sector recorded PBT of Rs. 1.7 billion compared to Rs. 1.8 billion last year. Steady progress has been made in the country’s first waste to energy power plant although the final commissioning is likely to be delayed given the challenges with the current situation. Apparel had improved efficiencies and had a good year but witnessed a drawback due to the impact of COVID-19 at the end of the financial year. The printing and packaging segment continued to differentiate itself in the market leveraging its sustainable printing agenda but was adversely impacted due to higher costs of paper leading to narrower margins and the cessation of operations in the latter part of March following the lockdown imposed in the country.

The Group’s investment in the printing & packaging segment in the South Pacific region is nearing completion and is expected to commence full scale operations soon. This strategic investment will support the printing and packaging segment’s aspirations to expand services in the South Pacific region using its expertise in sustainable printing to differentiate their value proposition.

Performance of the plantations segment was commendable despite the lower prices of tea experienced throughout the financial year due to its business diversification strategy. Escape Theme Parks signed an agreement to develop a park in Devithurai estate making Elpitiya Plantations the first Regional Plantation Company to embark on a non-agri diversification project of this scale.

The Services sector performance was commendable recording PBT of Rs. 298 million compared to Rs. 269 million last year. The insurance segment performed remarkably well and no major impact from COVID-19 is expected for this segment. The elevators segment secured a large number of contracts but may experience delays in installations as the market may be impacted due to the COVID-19 related economic downturn. Despite work remittances to the country declining during the financial year, the Money transfer segment of the Group performed well due to operational efficiencies.

“As we emerge from the great lockdown of our time to a world that has changed significantly, it is crucial that we are prepared for a paradigm shift within the Group to seize new opportunities by responding to changing demand dynamics. Plans are taking shape to ‘Realign, Reinvent and Relaunch’ our businesses to be even more relevant to society’s changing needs to deliver sustainable growth in earnings to our shareholders, upholding the Spensonian legacy of adapting to thrive,” stated Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

Aitken Spence PLC won the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2019 for the third successive year and has been ranked among the Top 10 Best Corporate Citizens of Sri Lanka for an unprecedented 14 consecutive years.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983 and marking its 150th year milestone in 2018, Aitken Spence is a blue-chip conglomerate with a strong regional presence in hotels, travels, maritime, freight and logistic solutions, plantations, power generation, financial outsourcing, insurance, printing, apparel and other services.