Aitken Spence Printing Retains Top Spot in the Industry for the 4th Consecutive Year

22 Jan

 

Sri Lanka’s leading printer, Aitken Spence Printing was recognized for the fourth consecutive year as the industry’s best, by winning the Gold award in the Printing & Related Services category at the National Business Excellence Awards 2017.

The recognition is proof of its position as the ‘best-in-class Printer’ in Sri Lanka, which has pioneered many innovative benchmarks and enriched the industry with sought after professionals over five decades.

“Winning the gold award consecutively in the printing & related sector is reflective of our commitment, every day, to deliver value-oriented, innovative, and sustainable printing and packaging solutions to our stakeholders. We take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all our customers and other stakeholders for their precious and continuous contribution, guidance and support to achieve this recognition”, said Mr. Prasanna Karunathilake, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Printing.

Aitken Spence Printing is the market leader and the preferred print solutions provider for discerning local and global clients. Its wealth of experience spans over five decades of proven skill and reliability coupled with unmatched customer care.

The National Business Excellence Awards is an annual award competition conducted by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) with a structured evaluation model of seven perspectives – excellence in leadership, excellence in corporate governance, excellence in capacity building, excellence in performance management, excellence in local and global market reach, excellence in corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability and excellence in business and financial results.

Last year, Aitken Spence Printing received the prestigious GSK 2016 Environmental Sustainability Award alongside the US-based DOW Chemical Company. The awards recognized the vendors who excel in sustainability from an international pool of suppliers who work with GSK. Aitken Spence Printing is the only carbon neutral printer operating in a LEED-Gold certified facility, in South Asia.

 

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Stanford MBA Students Visit Aitken Spence on Study Visit to Sri Lanka

13 Jan

Thirty MBA students and several professors from Stanford University visited Aitken Spence PLC as a part an intensive study tour to Sri Lanka, recently.

The students’ visit was aimed at gaining a deep understanding of how Sri Lanka was healing from the deep wounds of decades-long armed conflict and how the country is embarking on an ambitious social and economic development programme. During an intense one-week programme ended on the 5th of January, the visiting group held meetings with leaders of the private and government sector, non-governmental organisations and social organisations.

The visit of the Stanford MBA students and faculty was made possible by the 2017 Distinguished Careers Institute Fellow at Stanford University Tushara Canekeratne, Founder & CEO, Nadastra, Inc.and Co-Founder of Virtusa Corporation.

The MBA students from Stanford University engaged in discussions with Aitken Spence directors, J M S Brito (Deputy Chairman & Managing Director/CEO), Stasshani Jaywardena (Head of Leisure) and Dr. Rohan M Fernando (Head of Business Development & Plantations) on a range of topics that included external business challenges, strategy, government relations and sustainable business.

Stanford School of Business is one of the top business schools in the world. The Stanford MBA program, with a 6% admission rate, enrols the most selective class among business schools. Faculty includes Nobel laureates and pioneering thinkers in areas from economics to organizational behaviour and operations. The school convenes a full panoply of CEO speakers, forums, and global leaders.

Aitken Spence Travels Partners TUI to Bring 12 Charter Flights from the UK

22 Nov

Aitken Spence Travels is attracting the only charter flight operation from the UK to Sri Lanka this season, with 12 flights scheduled to land from 14th November 2017 to 30th April 2018. The charter operated by TUI UK will see a Thomson Airways 300-seat Dreamliner bringing in 3,600 tourists from the UK over the course of five months.

Holidaymakers will be accommodated in 15 beach resorts from Waikkala to Hikkaduwa as well as in several hotels in Cultural Triangle, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.

The charter operation is expected to generate more than 25,000 room nights to hotels in Sri Lanka during the season, giving a significant boost to the industry’s demand from the UK. As the official ground handler, Aitken Spence will be organizing logistics, transport, accommodation and tours of all the travellers.

The first flight which landed on Tuesday 14th November was warmly welcomed by Aitken Spence Travels at the Bandaranaike International Airport with traditional dancers.

This is the second consecutive year that Aitken Spence Travels has attracted the large charter operation from the UK. Previous to last year, 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.

Tourist arrivals from the UK has shown steady growth over the last few years, growing by 16 per cent in 2016 to 188,159 while arrivals in 2017 till the month of September stood at 153,971, according to official sources.

“Aitken Spence Travels is the only destination management company in Sri Lanka to handle a charter from the UK. This is due to our longstanding partnership with TUI, a global giant in the tourism industry. A great amount of effort was made over the year to secure the charter for the second consecutive year despite tremendous competition from other destinations. Our commitment, consistency in service and agility displayed during the charter operation last year helped us secure the charter for Sri Lanka this year. Sri Lanka as a tourist destination needs to be promoted more aggressively among the UK public in order to capitalize on the efforts made by industry players”, said Prasanjit Perera, Vice President, Aitken Spence Travels.

Aitken Spence Travels to Bring 13 Charter Flights from Poland This Season

9 Nov

Strengthening a new front in its efforts to promote tourism to Sri Lanka, Aitken Spence Travels announced that it will be attracting 13 charter flights from Poland this season, with one arriving every 10 days till mid-March 2018.

The flights are a result of the longstanding partnership between TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism company and Aitken Spence Travels.

Sri Lanka’s largest travel company said that the first of the charter flights arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport on Saturday the 4th November. The 189 Polish tourists were warmly welcomed by Aitken Spence Travels with lotus flowers and by a performance by traditional dancers.

A total of about 2400 Polish tourists are expected to arrive through this Charter operation generating an estimated 12,285 room nights, mostly at beach properties in the island.

“Despite the severe competition in the industry, we were able to convince TUI Poland to operate this charter flight with Aitken Spence Travels to Sri Lanka.  We will extend our fullest support to TUI Poland to promote the destination aggressively among their agents.  With the previous experiences that we have gained, we are confident that this charter operation will be a great success.  We will work with TUI Poland to strengthen our partnership to allow more Polish tourists experience Sri Lanka’s varied attractions”, said Niranjan Rodrigo, Vice President, Aitken Spence Travels.

Ireneusz Golabek, Head of Operations and Destination Services, TUI Poland said, “The TUI Polish charter will operate this winter season from Warsaw to Colombo. We are very happy and excited to be operating this charter with our long-standing destinations partner Aitken Spence Travels. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and can offer much more than the Sun and Beach. I am confident and feel strongly that the Polish Travellers will also be excited to explore the beautiful nature and culture your country has to offer. The excursions developed by our destinations partner is exciting and very good. We will look at the feedback of our Polish customers to explore continuity. I am happy that we have managed to grow from a very small operation to what we are enjoying today and am hopeful that it will grow from strength to strength.”

Arrivals from Poland to Sri Lanka in 2013 was 9688, which grew by 38% to 13,370 in 2014. However, numbers stagnated to 13,245 in 2015, while picking up by 9% in 2016 to 14,432. Polish arrivals to Sri Lanka from January to September in 2017 has seen a drop of 2% year-on-year. The Aitken Spence – TUI Poland charter operation is expected to boost the tourism arrivals from Poland to Sri Lanka.

Aitken Spence Second Quarter PBT Up by 15%

9 Nov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aitken Spence PLC posted Rs. 1.12 bn as profits before tax in the three months ended 30th September, an increase of 15.4% year-on-year. Profits attributable to equity holders of the company increased by 8% to Rs. 584 mn while revenue rose by 24.5% to Rs. 12.26 bn, in the quarter from last year.

Earnings per share for the quarter was Rs. 1.44, an increase of 2.3% over the corresponding period.

Financial results released to the Colombo Stock Exchange on Monday showed revenue of Rs. 23.9 bn for the six months ended 30th September 2017, a growth of 37.5% over the corresponding period last year.  Profit before tax for the six months rose by 23.8% to Rs. 1.8 bn, while profit attributable to equity holders of the company increased by 18.9% to Rs 939 mn.

Revenue from all four sectors, namely Tourism, Maritime & Logistics, Strategic Investments and Services, increased over the six months, compared to last year.

“The Hotels sector occupancy levels have improved over the past year, although yields have been challenging across the markets that we operate, especially in Sri Lanka and the Maldives”, said J M S Brito, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

Aitken Spence initiated a waste-to-energy project in August this year that would add 10 MW to the national grid in two years, in addition to providing a long-term solution to the garbage disposal problem in the Colombo Municipality.

Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC, a group company divested its entire holding in its fully owned subsidiary M.P.S. Hotels (Pvt) Ltd., on the 21st of September 2017. The resultant gain on disposal of this investment is reflected under other operating income.

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, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Printing, Financial Outsourcing, Insurance, and Apparel sectors.

Aitken Spence Travels to Bring 20 Charter Flights from Russia this Season

31 Oct

For the second consecutive year, Aitken Spence Travels will be bringing in 20 charter flights from Russia for the annual season. The first charter flight for 2017/18, a Boeing 767 operated by Royal Flight arrived in Sri Lanka on Friday the 27th October carrying 325 tourists from Russia. The charter operation was realized through the longstanding partnership between Coral Travel, a leading travel company in Russia and Aitken Spence Travels, Sri Lanka’s largest travel company. Aitken Spence served an unprecedented 153,000 visitors to Sri Lanka, during its last financial year.

The tourists who arrived on the charter flight were given a warm traditional welcome by presenting the national flower of the country and by a welcome performance by traditional dancers. The charter operation from Russia this year is expected to generate around 30,000 room nights, via a network of 55 hotel partners of Aitken Spence Travels.

“Due to the difficult market conditions last year, the Russian arrivals to the country was not positive. However, Coral Travel has maintained their confidence in the destination by continuing the charter program this year by working with Aitken Spence Travels to operate the Charter. The numbers from the Russian and CIS regions to Aitken Spence Travels has grown by 86% as a result of a very strong promotional campaign carried out by our partners”, said Vice President of Aitken Spence Travels, Darell De Crusz.

Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels Mr. Nalin Jayasundera commented, “This Charter will be operating thrice monthly once again, in cooperation with our longstanding partner – Coral Travels. We must convey our appreciation to the dynamism and the commitment of Coral Travel for believing in Sri Lanka as a destination. Whilst the destination faces many challenges, we believe that strong partnerships fostered over the years and aggressive marketing is the way forward”.

Significantly Coral Travel Celebrated their 25th Anniversary this year and has continued to offer the best resorts and hotels in 35 countries of the world including Sri Lanka. The brand Coral Travel is positioned in the Russian market as a brand of reliability and quality and has had a strong and healthy partnership with Aitken Spence Travels who have been in the DMC business for four decades.

Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara Achieves Prestigious Travelife Gold Certification

10 Oct

 

The ayurvedic wellness resort, Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara was accoladed with the internationally recommended Travelife for Hotels & Accommodations Gold Certification last week for the hotel’s commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices.

Travelife, the sustainable tourism certification system awarded the prestigious title after carefully assessing the performance of the hotel against 163 sustainability criteria which included environmental issues, such as minimising the amount of energy, waste and water, positive social actions for employee welfare, working with the local community and businesses, child protection and human rights; and protecting local traditions, among others.

Results of the independent audit carried by Travelife showed that Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara, which prides itself for having created a holistic framework aimed at creating a balanced lifestyle experience, have managed to fashion a similar balance in responsibly managing its socio-economic and environmental impacts.

The 64-roomed hotel has long since made a name for itself promoting the importance of wellness in ones’ life and curating a tourism product to cater to this growing trend in the world market. The Travelife certification as such adds immense value to the resort and the very essence of the business model it follows. The certification scheme works in partnership with tour operators, both in the UK and internationally, who use the system to increase sustainability in the industry and communicate achievements to customers.

Among the hotels’ many sustainability exercises, the net metered solar PV in electricity generation takes precedence. Recognised as the first hotel in Sri Lanka to adapt to this system, Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara has benefited immensely from this system which produces energy to cover the majority of its consumption needs. The biogas plant at the hotel also successfully contribute to the hotel kitchen as a supplementary to LNG.

While continuous monthly beach clean ups are conducted in support of the environment, the arts and crafts centre located within the premises aims at creating an awareness on local culture and inherent crafts that have been passed on from one generation to another. Uplifting the indigenous arts culture of the country, the hotel encourages local artisans to demonstrate their art at the centre. The hotel also practices the 7R principles followed by all Aitken Spence Hotels with the aim of reaching zero waste to land fill status and possess the certification of ISO 50001:2011.

This is the second consecutive recertification of Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara as a Travelife Gold member.

Other Aitken Spence Hotels in Sri Lanka – Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Tea Factory, Heritance Ahungalla – were also Travelife Gold certified and are awaiting the recertification for the second time.

Aitken Spence Travels Nurtures Tourism Best Practices with Communities

27 Sep

 

Aitken Spence Travels partnered with the staff of Turyaa Kalutara and the local community an environmental and professional empowerment programme, recently.

Aitken Spence Travels conducted an educational workshop to local community members whose livelihoods depended on tourism. The workshop covered topics such as, how to interact with tourists, how to be a professional service provider and how to conserve the environment that contributes to their profession and the industry. The key facilitator for the programme was Mr. Palitha Pushpa Kumara – Asst. Director for Tourism Development and Community Relations, of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

As a part of the engagement, Aitken Spence Travels and Turyaa Kalutara resort staff joined the local community in a beach cleaning exercise on the Kalutara beach recently which coincided with the International Ozone Conservation Day on the 16th of September.

Sri Lanka’s largest travel company, Aitken Spence Travels is a joint venture between leading conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC and TUI, the world’s number one integrated tourism company. It served an unprecedented 153,000 visitors to Sri Lanka, during its last financial year.

Commenting on this program Chief Operating Officer Aitken Spence Travels Mr. Tikiri Ellapola stated, “We believe this program will be the beginning of a positive relationship in engaging the community in a different way going beyond our core business objectives of being a Destination Management Company. As Sri Lanka’s number 1 DMC we will be the bridge between the Hotel and the area community to develop sustainable programs that are marketable with overseas agents. This way the community will be engaged in an organised manner to achieve a common objective. We are thankful to the SLTDA’s Asst. Director of Community Relations for sharing his expertise and time with us”.

With a legacy of expanding Sri Lanka’s tourism presence beyond traditional markets and producing some the most respected professionals in the industry, Aitken Spence Travels is the only travel company in Sri Lanka to win the Presidential Award for the Best destination management company & professional conference organizer for three consecutive years and to enter the Hall of Fame.

Winner of many PATA gold awards including the Most Innovative Excursion award in 2014, Aitken Spence Travels was the first DMC to obtain ISO 9001:2008. The company’s operations conform to ISO 14001:2015 environmental standards while being certified Carbon Neutral.

Aitken Spence Travels’ core business of consists of handling inbound tour operations to Sri Lanka consisting of mainstream tour operations, excursions, cruise handling, nature & adventure, sports, MICE, online and luxury and luxury segments.  Its outbound travel division provides holiday packages while representing leading brands such as Carlson Wagonlit, Rail Europe and Emirates Holidays.

Stasshani Jayawardena Recognised for Hospitality Sector Leadership

24 Jul

 

Stasshani Jayawardena, Director of Aitken Spence PLC and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotel Managements (Pvt) Limited was recently awarded the Hotel & Hospitality sector Gold award at the Top 50 Professional & Career Women Awards organised by the Women in Management (WIM) in partnership with IFS, a member of the World Bank Group.

Ms. Jayawardena is overall responsible for the tourism sector of Aitken Spence that includes hotels, destination management and overseas travel. She leads a team of international professionals in strengthening the service foundations and formulating a strategic road map for the group’s tourism sector.

Launched in March 2011 by WIM, the Professional & Career Women Awards’ celebrates the achievements of remarkable women who inspire those around them either through media, through their achievements in their careers, businesses and everyday lives.

A graduate of St. James’ & Lucie Clayton College and Keele University in the United Kingdom, Ms. Jayawardena was the youngest intern to work under then US Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton and the Former US President Bill Clinton in 2003. She is the EY NextGen Club’s Ambassador for Sri Lanka.

Ms. Jayawardena is the Chairperson of Splendor Media, a leading advertising and communication company. She is also a Director at Aitken Spence Aviation (Pvt) Ltd, Stassen Group of Companies and EcoCorp Asia (Pvt) Ltd.

Cuurate a lifestyle brand with its first venture in high-end hospitality is the most recent assignment that Ms. Jayawardena heads as its Founder and Chairperson.

AITKEN SPENCE PLC POSTS A 38% GROWTH IN PBT TO RS. 5.2 BN in 2016/17

27 May

 

 

 

 

Deshamanya D.H.S. Jayawardena- Chairman of Aitken Spence PLC.

 

 

 

 

Mr. J.M.S. Brito – Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

 

Aitken Spence PLC recorded a 38% rise in its profit before tax year-on-year with a top line of Rs. 45.9 billion for the year ended on the 31st of March. The conglomerate concluded the reporting period with a strong fourth quarter performance during which both revenue and PBT figures showed strong growth trajectories.

The holding company’s revenue growth reflected across all key operational sectors including tourism, maritime and logistics, strategic investments and services. The mid to long term strategic investments made by the group in preceding years performed well in spite of challenging market conditions.

The tourism sector recorded a growth of 32% in revenue to RS. 24 billion, while the maritime and logistics, and services sectors reported revenues of RS. 9.9 billion and RS. 1.7 billion respectively, indicating a growth of 20% and 43% respectively over the year.

Commenting on the Group’s inclination towards making mid to long term investments, Deshamanya D.H.S Jayawardena, Chairman of Aitken Spence PLC stated, “we have been quick to identify new investment opportunities where we can diversify to remain relevant in the present business context. Catalysed by our investment model, we seek strategic partnerships with global partners that would provide a competitive edge in the markets we intend to serve. At present, we have identified Tourism and Maritime and Logistics as key growth sectors, and have made significant strides in the current financial year to expand the Group’s footprint in these selected business domains.”

Aitken Spence PLC reported a profit attributable to shareholders of RS. 2.9 billion, a rise of 43% while earnings per share also rose by 43% to RS. 7.12

The global and local market conditions have remained less than favourable, with slow market growth impacting many of the operational sectors Aitken Spence PLC is engaged in.

Furthering its commitment towards making key strategic investments, the Group invested RS. 5.8 billion in acquiring property, plant and equipment. Investments made in prospective verticals are expected make returns in the medium to long term.

“Despite challenges faced from external factors by some of the key sectors, the Group had a commendable year of performance.  Over the years we have invested to build robust businesses underpinned by strong fundamentals. Our presence in diverse sectors has been the cornerstone of Aitken Spence PLC’s success, cushioning the Group during times of economic adversity. In the year under review, we switched gears and accelerated the pace to reach the next phase of our growth agenda. Uncertainty becoming the new normal for many of our businesses, our purpose for the year was not to be distracted by it, but rather look for opportunities that would take the Group to new heights,” commented Mr. J.M.S Brito.

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, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Financial Outsourcing, Insurance, IT, Printing and Apparel sectors.