Aitken Spence Travels Wins ‘Best in Class’ Award at Interactive Media Awards

22 Feb

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Aitken Spence Travels received the ‘Best in Class’ award presented by the Interactive Media Awards (IMA) for its revamped Aitken Spence Holidays website in the Travel and Tourism category. The ‘Best in Class’ award is the highest honour awarded by the IMA for excellence in planning, execution and overall professionalism. In order to achieve this award, the website passed through a comprehensive judging process, excelling in each of the judging criterion. The laurel is presented to very few websites each year for meeting the required mark.

The Aitken Spence Holidays unit is the Outbound operation of Aitken Spence Travels that provides a comprehensive set of services related to its Sri Lankan travellers. The service portfolio offered by Aitken Spence Travels Holidays unit consists of Issuing of Air Tickets, Assistance in obtaining visas, Assistance in obtaining new passports, Renewals, Holiday and business packages to exotic destinations, Pilgrim tours to Dambadiva and Holy land, Tours to global trade fairs, Special packages for Sports events & Musical concerts, Cruise packages, Overseas hotel accommodation, Rail tickets on Rail Europe,  Issuance of Currency & Travel Cards, Airport Drop & Pick up, Travel Insurance and Emirates holidays packages.

The role of Aitken Spence Travels has evolved to an organisation with almost 40 years of service to the Sri Lankan traveller and has some of the leading business organisations entrusting their travel needs and services through the company.

‘The Interactive Media Awards is an open competitive platform targeted at felicitating individuals and organizations involved in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting websites. The awards are judged by an independent committee appointed by Interactive Media Council Inc. (IMC), the hosting organization of this award’ stated Rajitha Dahanayake CEO of E Marketing Eye the company responsible for the revamp of the Aitken Spence Holidays web site.

“We pride ourselves on the ability to understand our customers and cater to their exact requirements in the most customer-centric way. In recent years, it has become clear that digital is a necessary medium by which to engage customers and we have wholeheartedly strengthened our efforts in that area. We are ever prepared to offer our customers an avenue to discover new destinations, personalise it and offer new ideas to make travel plans.” commented Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director – Aitken Spence Travels.

Aitken Spence 9-Month Net Profit Grows by 17%

14 Feb

 

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Aitken Spence PLC recorded a strong financial performance closing the immediate 9-month period with a 9.9% year-on-year growth in profits before tax amounting to Rs. 2.9 billion, and a 17% growth in profit attributable to shareholders. The growth is attributed to  strong financial performances posted by a number of key operational sectors in the reporting period.

Bringing to fruition the long term investment strategy adopted by the diversified group, many of the key industry segments operated by Aitken Spence showed positive growth trends in the 9-month period that drew to a close on the 31st of December 2016. The top line for the same period grew by 69% to a figure of Rs. 30 billion while earnings per share rose by 17% to Rs. 4.09.

The company achieved a 28% growth in profit before tax in the third quarter amounting to Rs. 1.4 billion. Earnings per share rose by 36% in the quarterly period amounting to Rs. 2.14 per share. Profit attributed to equity holders also rose by 36% to Rs. 870 million year-on-year, for the quarter.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983, Aitken Spence is a blue chip conglomerate with a strong regional presence in the Hotels, Travels, Maritime Services, Logistics, Plantations, Power Generation, Printing, Insurance, IT, Outsourcing and Apparel.

Maritime and Logistics, Services and Strategic Investments sectors all showed positive growth figures contributing to the bottom line gain experienced during the reporting period. Growth in the Strategic Investments sector was driven by power generation, plantations and printing segments while the elevator agency segment helped the Services sector performance. Maritime & Logistics sector benefited from growth in the port management services and education segments and the addition of a new freight forwarding representation.

Unfavourable market conditions in foreign markets, particularly the Maldives and India, and the high costs of finance have negatively contributed towards a challenging period for the tourism sector, despite top line growth. The addition of RIU Sri Lanka in Ahungalla, Al Falaj Hotel (Oman), Turyaa Chennai and the new wing of Turyaa Kalutara contributed to the rise in revenue.

“We have seen growth in revenue, and more significantly contributions from some of our new investments to the top line of the Group which is a healthy indicator of the performance of those investments in my view. Most of the [Group’s] key sectors have experienced positive growth in the third quarter. We are also confident that the tourism sector will rebound across the various geographical markets and that the new investments we made will continue to pay off in the coming years”, commented Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC, J M S Brito.

Aitken Spence Elevators Awarded ISO 9001: 2008 Quality Management Systems Certificate

13 Feb

 

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Aitken Spence Elevators, the sole distributor of OTIS elevators & escalators in Sri Lanka, was recently awarded the ISO 9001:2008 certification for its Quality Management System (QMS) by SGS Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. This certification covers Sales, Marketing, Installation, Testing, Commissioning and Maintenance functions of OTIS elevators, escalators and travelators.

The company’s QMS was established with the aim of satisfying its customers beyond their expectations through continuous improvement. Its vision is to elevate the company to be the leading elevator and escalator supplier in Sri Lanka. The focus was also on developing a motivated and committed team to introduce emerging technologies to the market and ensure safety, quality and reliability of its products and services.
Surendar Mariappan, Joint Managing Director of Aitken Spence Elevators said the ISO quality certificate is an important landmark in the company’s evolution and a testimony to the high standards of service which they adhere to.
The ISO 9001 certification is provided to organizations that are able to demonstrate its Quality Management System has the robust ability to consistently fulfill customer requirements as well as statutory needs. ISO 9001 certification also proves that the organization is committed towards continually enhancing customer satisfaction through the application of the management system with processes in place for non-conformance management and improvement.
Aitken Spence Elevators has inculcated an open culture for more productive workplace interactions, whilst building stronger bonds with its customers base. Further, its team has committed towards delighting customers by effectively delivering the company’s brand promise and end-to-end solutions in vertical transportation.
“Our commitment towards continuous improvement and quality management is a key factor contributing to all aspects of our operation. This certification is a milestone of achieving the highest levels of compliance and standardization for the benefit of our customer base who continues to place their faith in us. We hope to perpetuate the movement towards ensuring uncompromising quality at all levels and aspects” said the Joint Managing Director of Elevators.

Aitken Spence Printing Walks Away With Gold at National Business Excellence Awards

13 Feb

 

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The export arm of Aitken Spence Printing and Packaging – ACE Exports was awarded at the National Business Excellence Awards 2016 in recognition of its overall business excellence and contribution made towards economic progression of the country. The awards ceremony hosted by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) saw the Gold Award for the Printing and Related Services category being awarded to ACE Exports.

“Being awarded the Gold Award is a proud achievement for us and is due recognition for the untiring efforts our team puts into continuously providing high quality services for our client base. With this achievement we are able to occupy the status of being the ‘best in class printer’ in the Sri Lankan printing industry,” commented Prasanna Karunathilake, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Printing.

Committed towards delivering service driven, value oriented, innovative and sustainable printing and packaging solutions for all stakeholders, Aitken Spence Printing is poised for growth with an ever expanding customer base and best practices in printing and related services.

“It is indeed an honour for the excellent work of our team members. It also feels great to be recognized for our efforts in global engagement, business and financial performance, capacity building, sustainability initiatives, performance management, corporate governance, manufacturing excellence, best practices and set benchmarks in the industry”, added Mr. Karunathilake.

The laurel is dedicated towards the many stakeholders whose invaluable contributions have continued to grow the Aitken Spence Printing brand from strength to strength over the years and whose interests are closely aligned with the company’s vision for excellence in the future.

Aitken Spence Hotels Turyaa Chennai Amongst Top Five-Star Hotels In The City

13 Feb

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Turyaa Chennai, owned and operated by Aitken Spence Hotels has successfully met criteria for obtaining “5-Star Deluxe” classification, ranking it as one of five hotels in Chennai to have obtained this highly sought after accreditation. Turyaa Chennai now joins Hilton Chennai, Hyatt Regency Chennai, ITC Grand Chola Chennai and Park Hyatt Chennai in the “5-Star Deluxe” category segment. The 140-room property situated in the IT corridor of Chennai minutes away from the bustling city centre is recognised as one of the best new hotels in the city offering the perfect amalgamation of business and leisure. Situated 20 minutes away from the international airport, the hotel is the ideal location for the business travellers, the ardent shopper or cultural holiday seeker. With the recent classification status obtained by the property, Turyaa Chennai is now the only 5-star deluxe property in the IT corridor.

In order to achieve the 5 star deluxe certification the Hotel had to comply with stringent requirements provided by the inspection committee which consisted of representatives from both national and regional key statutory bodies.Aitken Spence Hotels, the first Sri Lankan hotel operator to enter the Maldives (1993), India (2007) and Oman (2009) broke new ground once again by being the first Sri Lankan company to own and operate a 5-star deluxe property in neighbouring India.

“Turyaa Chennai receiving this classification is no doubt a reflection of the hard work and dedication put in by the team. Service excellence will remain our top priority as we continue strengthening and expanding our tourism portfolio in the region. ” said Mr. Susith Jayawickrama, Joint Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.Aitken Spence Hotels operates a chain of 24 hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, India, Oman, and the Maldives. Each of its properties caters to a diverse client base, having hotels suited to every need and budget while maintaining high standards of hospitality. Located in key tourist locations, the Aitken Spence chain boasts of exotic properties such as the award winning eco-friendly Heritance Kandalama which is situated in close proximity to two UNESCO world heritage sites, Heritance Tea Factory which has been rated by The Independent, UK as one of the ‘Top Five Factory Hotels’ in the world and one of the best 100 places to stay in the world by the Sunday Times, UK and Desert Nights Camp in Oman, rated as one of the top ten desert retreats in the world.

Aitken Spence Travels to handle Inaugural Charter Flight of Thomson Airways from the UK

10 Nov

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Aitken Spence Travels will handle the inaugural charter of Thomson Airways scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka on the 08th of November 2016 at 01.30 pm, carrying TUI clients from Thomsons and First Choice from London Gatwick.

The Dreamliner B787, the 300-seat aircraft will operate every Tuesday on a weekly basis during the period of November 2016 to April 2017. Aitken Spence Travels intends to serve over 7,000 visitors to Sri Lanka through this charter operation as the official ground handler pertaining to logistics, transport, accommodation and tours of all travellers arriving on board.

The company is confident that the revived charter business from the UK will benefit stakeholders of the Tourism industry in Sri Lanka. The last charter from the UK market was in 2010 since then it has taken much effort and dedication to convince the charter operators to resume their flights back to Sri Lanka considering the aggressive competition posed by competing destinations.

“The peaceful environment, competitive pricing, the extended product portfolio with a variety of choices has had an impact in persuading the charter operators to resume flights back to Sri Lanka. However, we have been persistent and not losing hope has paved the way in reality with this charter. This year we have succeeded in getting the attention of many new market segments and we are keen to continue this way. Sri Lanka has a lot to offer and it’s our responsibility to promote it effectively,” commented Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

As a result of the charter operations, arrivals from the UK as well as Ireland will see an increase in travellers and clients would have the convenience of booking a direct flight to Sri Lanka enabling a hassle free journey.

 

 

Aitken Spence Second Quarter Profits Up by 50%

8 Nov

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Aitken Spence PLC posted Rs. 540 mn as profits attributable to equity holders of the company in the second quarter, an increase of 50% year-on-year. Pre-tax profits rose by 26% to Rs. 973 mn while revenue rose by 70% to Rs. 9.8 bn, in the second quarter from last year. Earnings per share for the quarter was Rs. 1.33, an increase of 50% over the corresponding period.

Increase in revenue during the quarter from the tourism sector was mainly driven by new additions, Al Falaj hotel (Oman), Turyaa Chennai (India) and the new wing of Turyaa Kalutara. Resumption of operations at the Company’s thermal power plant contributed to the increase in revenue from the Strategic Investments sector, while the new segments in the freight and port management activities contributed to the increase in the Maritime & Logistics sector revenue.

Aitken Spence PLC is among Sri Lanka’s most dynamic and respected corporate entities with operations in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the South Pacific. Listed in the CSE since 1983, it has major interests in hotels, travel, maritime services, logistic solutions and power generation. The group also has a significant presence in plantations, printing, garments, financial services, insurance and information technology.

The diversified Group’s six months results reflected profits attributable to equity holders of the company at Rs. 789 mn and pre-tax profits at 1.45 bn. Six-month revenue increased by 50 % to Rs. 17.38 bn, while earnings per share for the same period stood at Rs. 1.94.

Operations of the Group’s thermal power plant recommenced in April this year following a lapse of one year, now contributing to a more stable national power generation effort. The Group has made substantial investments over the years to establish a portfolio of thermal, wind, hydro and especially renewable energy production, and expects growth in this area of engagement both in the local and foreign markets. The interest in renewable energy has been worked into the Group’s sustainability initiatives and continues to be a key priority in the envisioned future of the Group involvement in the power sector.

The tourism sector whose lion share is represented by the Group’s chain of resorts spread across four countries faced a challenging quarter. The interest and start-up costs of new hotel projects in Sri Lanka and overseas affected the bottom line of the sector. Closure of a multitude of rooms in a few resorts in the Maldives for refurbishment coupled with lower demand from key source markets negatively affected the returns from the Maldives leisure segment. However, the Company is confident that the Maldives tourism sector would pick up in the short to medium term.

Group’s latest additions to Sri Lanka’s leisure portfolio, Heritance Negombo and RIU Ahungalla were fully operational during the quarter under review. The 500-room RIU hotel in Ahungalla contributed towards the resumption of scheduled charter flights to Sri Lanka from several countries during the winter season of 2016, which will contribute to better results for the rest of the year.

The Maritime & Logistics sector recorded an impressive performance in the quarter with significant increases in the top and bottom lines, strengthened by its maritime services and port management divisions.

An approximate 28 % increase in the income tax charge for the Group from Rs. 207 mn to Rs. 264 million was recorded for the quarter ending 30th September 2016.

TUI CEO Visits Heritance Negombo

4 Mar

DHS Jayawardena with Fritz Joussen at Heritance Negombo

TUI Group CEO Fritz Joussen accompanied by other TUI top-level executives visited Heritance Negombo on Thursday. The 139-room hotel is the latest hotel investment by Aitken Spence in Sri Lanka, which is to open in April 2016.

The high profile team from TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism group, included the CEO of TUI Germany, Managing Director of Product and Purchasing, CEO of TUI Nordic and Managing Director of TUI UK and Ireland . The TUI executives were welcomed by Aitken Spence Chairman Deshamanya D H S Jayawardena, Deputy Chairman J M S Brito and Head of Leisure/Director Stasshani Jayawardena.

The historic visit is organized by TUI’s joint venture partner in Sri Lanka Aitken Spence Travels.

Visiting Heritance Negombo

 

TUI – World’s Largest Tourism Group to Boost Destination Sri Lanka

3 Mar
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Fritz Joussen, Group CEO – TUI Group

A high profile delegation of TUI, the world’s number one integrated tourism Group, headed by the Group CEO Fritz Joussen will be visiting Sri Lanka today (Thursday). Organized by its joint venture partner Aitken Spence Travels, this would be the first time that Fritz Joussen will be visiting Sri Lanka. Joussen will be accompanied by other TUI top-level executives including: the CEO of TUI Germany, Managing Director of Product and Purchasing, CEO of TUI Nordic and Managing Director of TUI UK and Ireland on this visit. This visit highlights the focus on destination Sri Lanka and is a major endorsement from the global tourism giant.

TUI provides services along the entire tourism value chain for its 30 million plus customers from 31 source markets travelling to 180 destinations. It employs over 77,000 people in 130 countries. The group owns over 300 hotels & resorts with 210,000 beds, operating 136 aircrafts and 12 cruise ships. The company boasts revenues of €20.1 Billion in turnover and an operating result of €1.069 Billion. The TUI Group’s share is listed on the London Stock Exchange in the FTSE index and in the regulated market of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

The TUI group is an equal share partner of Aitken Spence Travels, the largest travel company in Sri Lanka. TUI enjoys a relationship of thirty five years with Aitken Spence, promoting Sri Lanka as a destination across a wide variety of source markets, especially in Europe. The partnership will be further strengthened with the commencement of planned charters from UK and Scandinavia, planned to start in the near future, along with the expected increase in arrivals from Germany and the Benelux region. The Lankan tourism industry will benefit greatly from these initiatives, adding traction to the tourism master plan of the country.

The TUI team is scheduled to meet the Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe, the Minister of Tourism Hon. John Amarathunga and with other key tourism industry officials during their one-day stay.

The delegation will also make visit to 501-room RIU Ahungalla – a joint venture with Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings, which is currently under development. In addition, the TUI team will also visit other hotels that would be featured in its brochures. RIU Ahungalla once completed will be Sri Lanka’s largest beach hotel with 501 rooms. The hotel will offer a new segment of “all inclusive,” a first of its kind to Sri Lankan consumers and will extend its wings to its brand loyal customers travelling the globe. The TUI Charter operation will definitely generate more opportunities for other hotels to generate more business due to the increase in arrivals.

“TUI has continued to express interest in Sri Lanka as an important destination in the region. This historic visit is a result of a longstanding commitment and the growing openness in Sri Lanka. The overall increase of business from TUI will create opportunities for the growth of inbound numbers and the potential development of Sri Lanka’s tourism product that this visit may facilitate”, said Nalin Jayasundara, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Travels and a respected industry veteran.

As the country’s biggest tour operator, Aitken Spence Travels handles an annual volume of over 125,000 inbound tourists, and continuously strives to contribute to the growth of inbound volumes to the country.

Hapag-Lloyd Lanka Walks Away with Best Customer Service Award at 22nd ICS Awards

27 Feb
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Mr. Russell Diaz, Assistant General Manager – Hapag Lloyd Lanka receiving the award

Hapag-Lloyd Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of Aitken Spence PLC and the local representation of German operator Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten was awarded the “Best Customer Service” laurel for the Europe sector at the recently concluded awards ceremony organized by the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers – UK (Sri Lanka branch). The win comes following a similar achievement at the previous year’s ceremony, where Hapag-Lloyd Lanka won the award for the US sector.

The ceremony which was held in Colombo on the 19th of February marked the 22nd installment of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) awards. The ICS founded in London back in 1911, received the Royal Charter in 1921 and is a body fundamentally dedicated towards the promotion of professionalism in the international maritime industry through shipping education and training.

Fourteen shipping lines vied for the awards and Hapag-Lloyd Lanka walked away with one of the most lucrative awards. On behalf of Hapag-Lloyd Lanka, Russell Diaz, Assistant General Manager – Hapag-Lloyd Lanka received the award from Chief Guest – Hon. Karu Jayasuria, Speaker of Parliament. The ceremony was graced by many dignitaries including Hon. Arjuna Ranatunga, Minister of Ports and Shipping alongside Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, Minister of Public Enterprises and Development.