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Metallics, neon colours, laser cuts, sequins and leather vied for attention when Brandix, Sri Lanka’s inspiration-driven apparel manufacturer, brought the curtain down on the ‘Fashion Innovation Runway’ of the Sri Lanka Design Festival (SLDF) with a show-stealing segment.

In-house designers and the products of several business units within the Brandix Group came together to present ‘Urban Collective’ – an assortment of purpose-designed casual wear, active wear, lingerie, lounge wear, sleep wear and evening wear that held the audience spellbound.

Clothing solutions for a day in the life of a hip young professional, encompassing multiple activities including yoga and a night out on the town and catering to many tastes from the conventional to the daring and the zany, gave the segment a kaleidoscopic aura that highlighted the diversity of the design talent behind it.

Innovative visual support in the form of a projection of an exchange of text messages identified each set of clothing as morning, active, afternoon and evening to provide a storyline as the models took to the catwalk.

The Brandix portfolio was an amalgamated representation of the expertise and manufacturing capabilities of the Group’s business units as well as its backward integration partners. Besides showcasing the design skills of multiple Brandix in-house designers, the innovative apparel modelled on the runway also depicted the Group’s capabilities in the manufacture, finishing and printing of fabrics and its proficiency in producing bespoke clothing for any occasion.

Brandix was one of the Fashion Industry Patrons of the 2014 edition of the Sri Lanka Design Festival, which took place from 4th to 7th December at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The pioneer of the concept of ‘total solutions’ in Sri Lanka’s apparel sector and a preferred supplier to some of the top retail brands in the US and Europe, Brandix is also a benchmark and international award winner for eco-friendly manufacture and commitment to environmental best practice.

Pictured here are some of the designs of Brandix’s ‘Urban Collective’ presentation on the SLDF Fashion Innovation Runway.





Disrupt Unlimited, the Brandix led start-up seed accelerator, has entered into a partnership with Microsoft to support innovators in its incubator programme with the technical resources and networking offered by the latter’s BizSpark initiative.

Microsoft BizSpark is a global programme that helps software start-ups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed in Colombo recently by Disrupt Innovation (Private) Ltd. and Microsoft Sri Lanka (Private) Ltd. paves the way for Microsoft to provide BizSpark to companies in the Disrupt Unlimited programme and to provide the necessary training on Microsoft technologies to such start-ups.

As an international network of entrepreneurial start-ups and partners, BizSpark supports its member community worldwide with up to three years of free software, support and visibility. This includes opportunities to publish and market their apps and free access to Windows Stores.

“BizSpark connects more than 100,000 start-ups and over 1,500 start-up organisations,” said Udena Wickremesooriya, Director of Disrupt Unlimited. “We are therefore delighted to promote BizSpark to the start-ups in our programme, because the value of its benefits and global perspective are immeasurable.”
Brandix and Disrupt Unlimited Director Udena Wickremesooriya (left)
and Microsoft Country Manager Imran Vilcassim exchange the agreement

Imran Vilcassim, Country Manager for Microsoft said: “Microsoft’s vision is to create a sustainable impact in the country through the power of technology. BizSpark is an initiative that helps promote a vibrant start-up eco-system in the country that would help in promoting innovation and economic growth. We are delighted to partner with Disrupt Unlimited to take this initiative forward and extend this benefit to companies in Sri Lanka.”

Launched earlier this year, Disrupt Unlimited runs a seed accelerator that seeks to inspire, mentor and fund start-ups with breakthrough, technology-driven solutions to disrupt products, practices, processes and business models in the Apparel, Textile and Accessories sectors. Among the company’s identified roles are collaboration with industry partners, securing the support of private partners, mentors, and advisors, development of idea/entrepreneur pipelines, building a network of investors in Sri Lanka and overseas, investing in start-ups, running seed accelerator programmes and supporting start-ups through commercialisation.


A Brandix apparel factory manufacturing lingerie for international labels has been recognised as Sri Lanka’s best in energy conservation with the 2014 ‘Vidulka’ Gold award at the country’s apex awards for energy efficiency.

The Brandix Apparel Solutions Limited (BASL) – Lingerie business unit’s manufacturing plant at the Wathupitiwela EPZ in Nittambuwa received the main award in the ‘Large Scale Manufacturing’ category for its impressive achievement of a 34 per cent reduction in electricity consumption in the period of evaluation.

Another Brandix business unit, Brandix Apparel Solutions Limited – Essentials at Ratmalana received a merit award in the commercial building category, for the effort it has made to improve its level of energy performance over the past five years. BASL – Essentials is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-certified facility by the US Green Building Council and is certified for ISO 50000, ISO 14000 and ISO 18000.

Commenting on the award won by BASL – Lingerie, the Company’s CEO Rajiv Malalasekera said: “The process of reducing the environmental footprint of our operations is a continuous one at Brandix. We keep exploring the boundaries of what is possible in our search for reductions in the use of natural resources, and this has resulted in noteworthy results in energy efficiency and water conservation.”

The National Energy Efficiency awards are presented by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA), a unit of the Ministry of Environment, as part of the government’s Vidulka Energy Week programme. Energy consumption data of three years is evaluated to determine the winners in each of the award categories.

Among the initiatives taken by BASL – Lingerie to reduce its electricity consumption were an upgrade of its
Rajitha Wellagiriya, Manager - Engineering at BASL - Lingerie (second left)
and Ajith Ranathunga, the Company’s Assistant Maintenance Manager,
receive the Vidulka Gold award from Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne
central air-conditioning system with a high energy-efficient water cooled chiller, equipping the plant with a building management system (BMS) to monitor, control and evaluate its energy performance, installation of a solar hot water system for the kitchen and laboratory, the replacement of all clutch motors with energy efficient servo motors and the optimisation of the compressed air distribution network.

The lighting system of the plant is a combination of natural and artificial lighting with skylights, LED and fluorescent bulbs, the company said.

Enterprise-wide Green initiatives have enabled the Brandix Group to reduce its energy cost per product by 15 per cent in 2013-14 over the preceding year, cut electricity cost per product by 12 per cent despite increased tariffs, and reduce its carbon footprint by 9 per cent. Renewable energy now makes up 20 per cent of the Group’s energy mix.

Previous Brandix Group winners of the ‘Vidulka’ National Energy Efficiency Awards include the Brandix Casualwear plant at Seeduwa in 2010 (Gold), Brandix Casualwear, Ratmalana (Silver) and Phoenix Industries, Makandura (Bronze) in 2011, and Phoenix Industries (Gold) and Brandix Essentials, Koggala (Silver) in 2012. The Group did not participate in the awards programme in 2013.

Brandix is the pioneer of and process leader in eco-friendly manufacture in Sri Lanka, and the first apparel manufacturer in the world to receive Platinum status for Green manufacture from the US LEED Green Building rating system.

In September 2012, the Group set itself the target of reducing its environmental footprint by a further 20 per cent by 2020, and released its maiden Sustainability Report, the first by a private company in Sri Lanka. To support this initiative and track its progress, Brandix has developed its own ‘Eco Index’ -- an assessment tool which can be used to measure the environmental performance of Brandix factories and offices across the Group and facilitates a fair and easy comparison between factories and clusters.


The depth of design talent and the degree of vertical integration that are unique to Brandix, Sri Lanka’s single largest apparel exporter, are to be demonstrated at a unique fashion show in Colombo on Saturday, 6th December, as one of the segments of the Sri Lanka Design Festival (SLDF).
Brandix designers at work on the ‘Urban Collective’
portfolio to be presented at SLDF 2014

Themed ‘Urban Collective,’ the show is an amalgamated representation of the expertise and products of several business units of the Brandix Group such as Casualwear, Intimate Apparel, Lingerie, Essentials and Finishing, as well as its backward integration partners Brandix Textiles, Textured Jersey Lanka and Quenby Lanka Prints, the company said.
While showcasing the design skills of multiple Brandix in-house designers, the innovative apparel modelled
on the runway will also depict the Group’s capabilities in the manufacture, finishing and printing of fabrics and its proficiency in producing bespoke clothing for ‘a day in the life of a hip young professional about town.’

Inspired by global trends in urban active-wear, the Brandix design team embraces urban street-wear culture to present ‘Urban Collective’ which offers solutions for every occasion from morning through evening, successfully fusing fashion with function for the complete lifestyle solution.

Brandix designers at work on ‘Urban Collective’
Brandix is one of the Fashion Industry Patrons of the 2014 edition of the Sri Lanka Design Festival, which takes place from 4th to 7th December at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre. Fulfilling the need for a global platform for the country’s growing design activity, the SLDF is one of South Asia’s most business-friendly and commercially successful global platforms for design and related industries.

The pioneer of the concept of ‘total solutions’ in Sri Lanka’s apparel sector and a preferred supplier to some of the top retail brands in the US and Europe, Brandix is also a benchmark and international award winner for eco-friendly manufacture and commitment to environmental best practice.


With up to US$ 50,000 to be won, every hour counts for innovators competing in ‘500 Hours’ -- the latest innovation competition hosted by the Brandix-led start-up seed accelerator Disrupt Unlimited. 

The company has invited innovators to register to attend a kick-off event in December 2014, at which a series of apparel industry related challenges are to be presented. These will subsequently be posted on the company’s website for online participants.

Applications to participate, available online at www.disruptunlimited.com, close at 11.59pm on Monday, 24th November 2014, and the 500 Hour competition will begin at the conclusion of the kick-off event in December, the company said.

Elaborating on this unique challenge, Disrupt Unlimited’s Chief Operating Officer Surendra Karunakaran said: “500 Hours goes beyond a traditional competition by enabling innovators from all backgrounds and disciplines to commercialise their technology-driven ideas and solve crucial challenges across the Apparel supply chain. Gaining rare insight into the opportunities in the Apparel, Textile, and Accessories industries, entrepreneurs who participate in this challenge are expected to go on to build game-changing start-ups.”

“Innovators, entrepreneurs, and problem-solvers with ambition in their genes are all invited to compete and solve some of the biggest global challenges faced in the apparel industry.” 

He said winning teams would have the opportunity to commercialise their ideas through Disrupt Unlimited’s four-month seed accelerator programme, which offers start-ups seed funding, office space, continuous mentorship, experienced advisors, practical workshops, networking opportunities, and legal and administrative services.

At the kick-off event in December, industry experts will pitch a set of global challenges with the largest market opportunities to the selected group of innovators. Participants will then form teams and begin to identify root causes and understand the apparel domain through factory visits and discussions with the experts.

Each team will have three weeks (500 hours) to work on a conceptual solution and pitch to be a part of the seed accelerator. Start-ups that make the cut will launch their entrepreneurial journeys with seed funding up to US$ 50,000 each.

“We believe a lot can be achieved in 500 hours,” Mr Karunakaran added. “Of course you could spend that time watching 7,000 YouTube clips, replying to 10,000 emails, or attending 250 meetings, but what if you could use that time to start your own company? For the best chance at success, a start-up needs three key ingredients: an exciting market opportunity, a great team, and a fantastic product. 500 Hours is about bringing together those elements to give aspiring entrepreneurs the edge from the outset.”

Launched earlier this year, Disrupt Unlimited runs a seed accelerator that seeks to inspire, mentor and fund start-ups with breakthrough, technology-driven solutions to disrupt products, practices, processes and business models in the Apparel, Textile and Accessories sectors.


On October 24th, a team of six Sri Lankans completed an overland expedition from Berlin to Battaramulla
on four wheels and two. The 12,500 km route followed parts of the old hippie trail of the 60s and the historic Silk Road, and it was also the first time Sri Lankans had ever attempted this by motorcycle. The group was flagged off at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on the 15th of September by the Sri Lankan Ambassador H.E. Mr. Karunatilaka Amunugama, as well as representatives of other diplomatic missions and resident Sri Lankans in Germany.

The team travelled through Germany into the Czech Republic and to the Alps mountain range in Austria and Italy. In Venice, they boarded a ferry for 33 hours, which took them to Patras in Greece. From there,
they journeyed through the remotest parts of Turkey, crossing into Iran, where they continued without any navigational equipment into Pakistan. There, the expedition explored the most isolated mountain regions of the country, where few foreigners have ever been. Finally, they crossed into India at Wagah.

The members of the expedition were Feroz Omar, Director, Brandix Lanka Limited, Major Nalaka Buddhadasa Rtd. Capt, Kshemendra Weeratunga, Senior Captain & Flight Instructor, SriLankan Airlines, Javana Fernando and Kenneth McAlpine, co-founders of Kulu Safaris and entrepreneur John Durrant. Feroz Omar was accompanied by his wife Amina who travelled with the team up to Istanbul.

Major Nalaka Buddhadasa said, “We experienced extreme conditions along the way,” adding “Temperature variations from -2 degrees to 48 degrees; snow, hail, rain, sand storms; mountains, forests and deserts; dead animal carcasses on the road; Turkish traffic and Indian lorry drivers.” Capt. Weeratunga said he has flown over these areas for many years and that it was nice to see so many places at ground level.
The Expeditors - (Left to Right) Major Nalaka Buddhadasa, Javana
Fernando, Feroz Omar and Kshemendra Weeratunga with their motorcycles

Yet, the group was clearly taken aback by the amazing hospitality, support and kindness shown to its members on this adventure. Strangers approached them bearing gifts of fruit, chocolates and pistachios; lorry drivers set up small fires along the way and made them tea. In addition to this, they were cheered on by people on the road, with cars honking their horns to acknowledge their efforts. To make the crossing through Pakistan a viable option, they received incredible support from the national army and the Sri Lankan High Commission in Islamabad.

The group said that the trip would not have been possible without the assistance of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, the Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion, Hon. Faiszer Musthapha, the Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, Mrs. Kshenuka D. Senewiratne, Major General Chagie Gallage, Brigadier Jayantha Gunaratne, Brigadier Lalantha Gamage, Ralf Karpinski, Sevandhi Fernando and Dilhan Jayawerene, and made special acknowledgement of Wilhelm Hevert in Germany, who helped the team from the beginning to the end.

“This was a journey of a lifetime,” Feroz Omar said, “with memories we will share forever. We travelled as a team, supported, annoyed and motivated each other. Each of us had a crucial role to play, and the camaraderie and laughter along the way helped us to get through the more testing times. We’re already discussing our next adventure. Watch this space!”






In the wake of unprecedented failures of entities, some of which used to be giants in their respective business arena, the role of the board has come to the spotlight than ever before. Enron in 2000 had $ 100 billion annual revenue and was valued by the stock market at nearly $ 80 billion. It was ranked seventh in Fortune’s list of the largest US firms. (Tricker 2011). 

In many of the corporate scandals, it is clearly seen that following an international governance code does not necessarily insulate a corporate from an eventual failure. The board of Lehman Brothers Inc. had ten independent directors, half aged over 70 with two in their 80s. At Enron the role of CEO and chairman were split, and the audit committee was chaired by a leading independent accounting academic and a raft of eminent independent non-executive directors (Tricker 2011). 

Leadership - Clutch or Choke

The aim of any business leader is to steer the organisation to new heights by taking an acceptable level of business risk. The prize for taking such calculated risk is the return generated for the shareholders and retained for the future growth. In fact, many businesses have been successful because their leaders do a better job of taking risks and not because they do a better job in avoiding risk. Reaching the pinnacle of success may be achieved through decent execution of carefully conceived strategies in a conducive economic environment. However, when the business environment is shaken by shock-waves such as financial crises or when ramifications of short sighted decisions made by leaders unfold, keeping the momentum going becomes insurmountable and are at stake. When the volatility and uncertainty threaten the survival, the pride of being at the top inhibits the ability of some leaders to make responsible realistic decisions. Such leaders very often dig a hole for themselves by denying the reality. Paul Sullivan, in his book ‘Clutch’- Why some people excel under pressure and others do not - explains “Clutch”. Clutch simply put, is the ability to do what you can normally do under immense pressure. According to Paul Sullivan, most people fail under extreme situations. They may be able to do what they do just fine under everyday conditions, but when the pressure mounts, their ability leaves them. They choke. Paul Sullivan argues that if you failed in some way, admit it and take responsibility; your client will respect you more. Simply say, “I tried and made a mistake.”

In its last financial statements in 2000, Enron had reported a revenue of approximately $ 101 billion which is a 153% increase from the previous year. CEO, Jeffrey K. Skilling had hailed the solidity of the leadership in the annual report under the heading “outdistance the competition” and asserted that Enron’s performance in 2000 was a success by any measure, as they continued to solidify their leadership in each of their major businesses. In making this statement with collaborating numbers generated through a masterpiece of manipulation, he would not have envisaged the twenty four years jail sentence and the payment of $ 45 million restitution six years later.
Figure 1 - Excerpts from Enron 2000 annual report
Olympus- Financial Jiggery -Pokery

After a decade from the demise of Enron, a bold British business leader in a 92 year old Japanese corporate giant challenged the chairman who had promoted him for the financial Jiggery –Pokery involving $ 1.7 billion. Michael Woodford was made president of Olympus—the company to which he had dedicated thirty years of his career—he became the first Westerner ever to climb the ranks of one of Japan’s corporate giants. Woodford learned about a series of bizarre mergers and acquisitions from an investigative journal called Facta and he was incredulous. Woodford was made aware of over-priced acquisitions and exorbitant consultancy fees to recover losses that Olympus had made in investments in the years of Japan’s bubble economy of the 1980’s which subsequently went bad. In the series of suspicious transactions an advisory fee of $ 687 million had been paid to boutique U.S. financial firm for the $ 2 billion acquisition of British medical equipment firm Gyrus in 2008 which is at a third of the purchase price.

Taking the matter forward, Woodford commissioned an external report by PwC into the fees paid to the company’s advisers and it revealed a shameful catalogue of errors. Presenting the report to the board, he requested the resignation of Kikukawa and Hisashi Mori, the executive vice president. At the board meeting on 14 October convened ostensibly to discuss concerns over governance, Kikukawa announced that the agenda had been altered and the only thing to discuss was the termination of the Woodford contact (Julian Ryall, 2012). The Olympus board of directors could simply not give him an answer and sacked him.

One may now be interested to know, having lost his job, the top position in a global multinational, where Woodford, is today? Is he jobless or worried? Had he paid scant attention to the issue and kept his mouth shut, he would have saved his job and still continue to be the President.

Woodford immediately fled the country in fear of his life but was bold to go straight to the press—making him the first CEO of a global multinational to blow the whistle on his own company. Four national newspapers for first time in history honored him as the businessperson of the year. It is interesting and astonishing to see his response to the below two questions in an interview:

How has your life changed, both personally and professionally, since the Olympus scandal came to light?
Totally. I now spend my time speaking around the world, as I care passionately about sharing the lessons of the Olympus scandal and dedicating my time to my human rights and road safety charities. I’m busier than ever before!

He had been offered two board level positions which he refused as he has now realized, life is more than the corporate life. He has chosen to help those who are desperately in need. 

Business Tycoon in Jail- can their leadership be renewed
Jeff K. Skilling former Enron CEO is currently serving 24 years jail sentence. Ken Lay, former Enron Chairman and CEO, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy but, following his death from a heart attack in 20016, had his guilty verdict wiped out as he had not been able to challenge the conviction. In the case of Tyco International, two former executives, CEO and his second in command were both sentenced in 2005 to between 8 and 25 years in prison for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the manufacturing company. The US telecoms giant admitted a $ 11bn fraud in July 2002. Bernie Ebbers, former CEO, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy and given a 25 year prison sentence. (Christopher Alken 2012).

History provides evidence of survival and success for ethical behavior at tough times, although such decisions may not been fruitful in the eyes of stakeholders whilst sooner or later society may punish the unethical behavior and eventually sub consciousness will continue to punish until death. The paragraph above provides evidence of ramifications which arose from reckless and unethical behavior of individuals who once were supposedly business leaders.

An asset that is priceless

Financial reporting standards have now been evolved to value any item that an entity could control and bring economic benefits to an entity. It may not be an exaggeration to state that the one of the most valuable assets which is priceless are the leaders with higher level of moral development. Such leaders’ inevitably set the tone for a culture of honesty and create a sustainable and socially responsible business. According to Professor Lawrence Kohlberg at the Center for Moral Education of Harvard University, Ethical behavior of an individual can be analyzed into 3 broader levels.  As depicted in Figure 2 People who are in Level 1, will drive their behavior based on self-interest or punishment. An unethical behavior could emerge for a financial benefit which has been the case in many corporate frauds. People in Level 2, in contrast, tend to characterize behavior based on others’ expectations which means unethical behavior may be judged as right because it is a request of the boss and he/she justifies the wrong act to be right. People in Level 3 (universal ethical principle) have the courage to make autonomous making to ‘what is morally right’ without being influenced by external pressures. Such individuals in the business world know when to say ‘no’ to unethical act and have the courage to lose the job for human dignity and for the well-being of the society. The fundamental question before us is do we have business leaders of Level 3?
Figure 2 - Levels of Morality Development
References
Alkan, C. (02/2012). Unhappy 10th Birthday. Accounting and Business International, 20-22.
Ballinger, B. (2011). How to Become Clutch. REALTOR.
Commitee, T. P. (2011). Olympus Investigation Report. 
Enron. (2001). Annual Report. 
Kohlberg, L. (1975). The Cognitive- Development Approach to Moral Education. 
Ryall, J. (2012). Limited Exposure. Accounting and Business International, 24-27.
Ryall, J. (2014). Business as usual, but not for Olympus whistle-blower Michael Woodford. BCCJ ACUMEN.
Tricker, B. (2012). Corporate Governance- Principles, Policies and Practices. UK: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.
Woodford, M. (2012). Inside the Olympus Scandal. 
Bruce, R. (2010). Repo reverberations. Accounting and Business , 25-26.

Copyright: LLS Indunil


If any individual can be considered the father of Sri Lanka’s emergence as an apparel manufacturer of global significance it would be Martin Trust, as a tribute to whom a coffee table book has been published by the Brandix Group on behalf of the industry and Trust’s Sri Lankan business partners.

‘Built on Trust’ is a 238-page treasury of images and exceptional insight into the founding in 1970 of MAST Industries in the Canton, Massachusetts home of Martin and Dena Trust and what ensued in the four decades that followed, with an emphasis on the role played by Trust in placing Sri Lanka firmly on the world’s apparel sourcing map.

Described as ‘the story of an industry and a man who helped transform it over four decades,’ this unique volume documents the evolution of Sri Lanka’s apparel industry through the eyes of two of its present-day giants -- Brandix and MAS Holdings -- as well as through contributions from Trust’s closest business associates such as Les Wexner, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of L Brands, Inc. (formerly Limited Brands), Jack Welch, former Executive Vice President of MAST Industries Inc. and Alok Malhotra, former Managing Director - Indian Subcontinent for Tommy Hilfiger.

Pioneers’ reunion: (From left) Dena Trust, Les Wexner, Martin Trust,
Abigail Wexner, Ashroff Omar and Sharen Turney at the presentation of the book
A reunion of some of these pioneers took place at the Columbus, Ohio, home of Les Wexner recently when Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar joined Wexner to present the book to Martin Trust. Among the eminent guests present were Charles McGuigan – Chief Operating Officer, L Brands / President, Mast Global, Sharen Turney – CEO, Victoria’s Secret, Bruce Soll – SVP/Counsel, L Brands, Denise Landman – CEO Pink, Margaret Macdonald – President, VS Stores, Margaret Wright – EVP Brand Production & Sourcing, L Brands and Jim Schwartz – President & CEO, MGF Sourcing.

Recognised as one of the pioneers of ‘speed sourcing’ for the American fashion retail sector, Martin Trust founded his first business, Mast Industries, in 1970 with a modest $1,000. In 1978, his company, a contract manufacturer, importer and distributor of clothing, merged with The Limited Stores, later Limited Brands and now L Brands Inc.

Trust established his first joint venture partnership in Sri Lanka -- a casualwear operation with the Omar family owned company LM Apparels in 1986, before the incorporation of Brandix. He has since invested in over two dozen joint venture companies in the country. In 1994 the Government of Sri Lanka honoured him with the title of ‘Ranjana’ for his contribution towards the development of the country’s apparel industry.

In messages replete with personal anecdotes of their interactions with Martin Trust, Ashroff Omar, MAS Holdings Chairman Mahesh Amalean and Jewelex Trading Chairman Ajith Dias pay personal tribute to his vision and commitment, and the value of the knowledge and mentorship they received in the fledgling days of their businesses.

Les Wexner in his introduction to the book states: “Marty’s role in the development of Sri Lanka’s textile and apparel industry is well known, and we have benefitted greatly from it. Perhaps less well known is Marty’s foresight in taking us to China in 1977, well before it opened up to the West.  In an age where the rest of the world has only recently discovered the potential of Asia, it is well to remember that a visionary named Martin Trust not only saw that opportunity, but also played an important role in shaping an exciting future for us and the entire industry.”

Currently the President of Brandot International which he founded in 2001, Martin Trust continues to hold investments in several joint venture partnerships with apparel and textile companies in Sri Lanka. He also serves on the board of Virtusa Corporation, the information technology services company.

‘Built on Trust’ can be read online by visiting www.brandix.com/built-on-trust.pdf


Textured Jersey Lanka PLC (TJL) has reported a top line of Rs. 3.5bn and net profit of Rs. 282mn for the quarter ended 30th September 2014 (2Q FY2014/15). According to Mr. Bill Lam, Chairman of TJL, this marked an emphatic recovery from the temporary setback suffered in the previous quarter, with sales up 29% and net profit up 72% on a quarter on quarter basis. Further, on a year on year basis the company was back on a strong growth trajectory with both sales and net profit up 7%.     

Mr. Lam further stated that gross profit for 2Q FY2014/15 reduced by 2% year on year to Rs. 339mn, mainly due to lower margins arising from a combination of factors which included changes in product mix, outsourcing and higher dyes and chemical costs. However, the company managed to cut down its administrative and distribution expenses by 4% to Rs. 99mn, which resulted in the operating profit remaining at Rs. 249mn, on par with the corresponding quarter of last year.

TJL continued to maintain its near debt-free balance sheet as at 30th September 2014, with a strong cash
Textured Jersey Lanka PLC
position of Rs. 1.6bn, and only a temporary overdraft of Rs. 366mn. However, according to Mr. Lam, the
cash balance was 21% less compared with the previous year, due to dividends and capital expenditure during the current quarter. As a result, net finance income for 2Q FY2014/15 was Rs. 16mn, 10% lower compared to last year. Lower interest rates also contributed to this reduction in net finance income. The other operating income consisting of technical service fees of Rs. 21mn, allowed TJL to close the quarter at a net profit of Rs. 282mn, an improvement of 7% from last year.

Commenting on strategic initiatives, Mr. Lam highlighted that the construction phase of the multi fuel co-generation boiler plant was successfully completed during the quarter and test operations had been commenced. The plant will be fully operational in the coming quarters and is expected to generate substantial savings in energy costs. Similarly, the recently added 10-12% capacity will be fully utilised during the coming quarters with US demand coming back on track.

He concluded by stating that with strategic investments made in recent times coming into fruition, combined with a strong focus on innovation, quality and execution, the management is confident that TJL will be able to continue its growth trajectory and create shareholder value for the foreseeable future.


The Brandix Group has pledged to support efforts by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to stimulate invention and innovation as one of the initiatives of the latter’s World Class University Project.

As a first step in this partnership, the Brandix-led start-up seed accelerator Disrupt Unlimited accepted an invitation to be one of the presenters at a recent workshop organised by the University at which selected inventors who have commercialised their products presented their success stories under the topics of Solutions, Ideas, Inventions, Innovations and Products/Patents.

Addressing aspiring inventors and innovators participating in the workshop, Surendra Karunakaran, Chief Operating Officer of Disrupt Unlimited said his company’s support to the university’s initiative would take the form of working with the entrepreneurial pool that will be built by the University to solve apparel sector specific challenges.

The principal challenge for the apparel industry, Mr Karunakaran said, is to make substantially lower prices possible through innovative products, accurate demand forecasting, integration of supply chains and application of technological innovations in manufacturing processes.

Among the opportunities for innovation he highlighted were harnessing Big Data for demand forecasting; customised 3D printed garments as a result of the integration of technology and the supply chain, and innovative products such as health-tracking garments, nanotubes and nanobots.
Disrupt Unlimited Chief Operating Officer Surendra Karunakaran (left)
addresses the workshop

The workshop at the auditorium of the Faculty of Graduate Studies of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura brought together senior academics, entrepreneurs, inventors, undergraduates and Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne, Secretary of The Ministry of Higher Education and representatives of the National Intellectual Property Office of Sri Lanka. 

The World Class University Project under Prof. Ranil de Silva, has been developed as a focal point for harnessing, encouraging and promoting innovative skills of undergraduates and postgraduates of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to provide socio-economic development and nation building through inventions and innovations, to formulate strategies and to inspire the nation by instilling an innovative culture with the facilitation of appropriate technical and financial frameworks.

Launched earlier this year, Disrupt Unlimited runs a seed accelerator that seeks to inspire, mentor and fund start-ups with breakthrough, technology-driven solutions to disrupt products, practices, processes and business models in the Apparel, Textile and Accessories sectors. Among the company’s identified roles are collaboration with industry partners, securing the support of private partners, mentors, and advisors, development of idea/entrepreneur pipelines, building a network of investors in Sri Lanka and overseas, investing in start-ups, running seed accelerator programmes and supporting start-ups through commercialisation.

In order to build a stronger ecosystem for innovation in Sri Lanka, Brandix already has partnerships with the Universities of Colombo, Peradeniya, Moratuwa, Kelaniya, Sri Jayewardenepura and Wayamba and the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT). The Group also partners the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Global Start-up Labs (MIT-GSL) Sri Lanka programme, and sponsors the robotics competitions of several other universities and institutions as well.


Metallics, neon colours, laser cuts, sequins and leather vied for attention when Brandix, Sri Lanka’s inspiration-driven apparel manufacturer, brought the curtain down on the ‘Fashion Innovation Runway’ of the Sri Lanka Design Festival (SLDF) with a show-stealing segment.

In-house designers and the products of several business units within the Brandix Group came together to present ‘Urban Collective’ – an assortment of purpose-designed casual wear, active wear, lingerie, lounge wear, sleep wear and evening wear that held the audience spellbound.

Clothing solutions for a day in the life of a hip young professional, encompassing multiple activities including yoga and a night out on the town and catering to many tastes from the conventional to the daring and the zany, gave the segment a kaleidoscopic aura that highlighted the diversity of the design talent behind it.

Innovative visual support in the form of a projection of an exchange of text messages identified each set of clothing as morning, active, afternoon and evening to provide a storyline as the models took to the catwalk.

The Brandix portfolio was an amalgamated representation of the expertise and manufacturing capabilities of the Group’s business units as well as its backward integration partners. Besides showcasing the design skills of multiple Brandix in-house designers, the innovative apparel modelled on the runway also depicted the Group’s capabilities in the manufacture, finishing and printing of fabrics and its proficiency in producing bespoke clothing for any occasion.

Brandix was one of the Fashion Industry Patrons of the 2014 edition of the Sri Lanka Design Festival, which took place from 4th to 7th December at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The pioneer of the concept of ‘total solutions’ in Sri Lanka’s apparel sector and a preferred supplier to some of the top retail brands in the US and Europe, Brandix is also a benchmark and international award winner for eco-friendly manufacture and commitment to environmental best practice.

Pictured here are some of the designs of Brandix’s ‘Urban Collective’ presentation on the SLDF Fashion Innovation Runway.





Disrupt Unlimited, the Brandix led start-up seed accelerator, has entered into a partnership with Microsoft to support innovators in its incubator programme with the technical resources and networking offered by the latter’s BizSpark initiative.

Microsoft BizSpark is a global programme that helps software start-ups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed in Colombo recently by Disrupt Innovation (Private) Ltd. and Microsoft Sri Lanka (Private) Ltd. paves the way for Microsoft to provide BizSpark to companies in the Disrupt Unlimited programme and to provide the necessary training on Microsoft technologies to such start-ups.

As an international network of entrepreneurial start-ups and partners, BizSpark supports its member community worldwide with up to three years of free software, support and visibility. This includes opportunities to publish and market their apps and free access to Windows Stores.

“BizSpark connects more than 100,000 start-ups and over 1,500 start-up organisations,” said Udena Wickremesooriya, Director of Disrupt Unlimited. “We are therefore delighted to promote BizSpark to the start-ups in our programme, because the value of its benefits and global perspective are immeasurable.”
Brandix and Disrupt Unlimited Director Udena Wickremesooriya (left)
and Microsoft Country Manager Imran Vilcassim exchange the agreement

Imran Vilcassim, Country Manager for Microsoft said: “Microsoft’s vision is to create a sustainable impact in the country through the power of technology. BizSpark is an initiative that helps promote a vibrant start-up eco-system in the country that would help in promoting innovation and economic growth. We are delighted to partner with Disrupt Unlimited to take this initiative forward and extend this benefit to companies in Sri Lanka.”

Launched earlier this year, Disrupt Unlimited runs a seed accelerator that seeks to inspire, mentor and fund start-ups with breakthrough, technology-driven solutions to disrupt products, practices, processes and business models in the Apparel, Textile and Accessories sectors. Among the company’s identified roles are collaboration with industry partners, securing the support of private partners, mentors, and advisors, development of idea/entrepreneur pipelines, building a network of investors in Sri Lanka and overseas, investing in start-ups, running seed accelerator programmes and supporting start-ups through commercialisation.


A Brandix apparel factory manufacturing lingerie for international labels has been recognised as Sri Lanka’s best in energy conservation with the 2014 ‘Vidulka’ Gold award at the country’s apex awards for energy efficiency.

The Brandix Apparel Solutions Limited (BASL) – Lingerie business unit’s manufacturing plant at the Wathupitiwela EPZ in Nittambuwa received the main award in the ‘Large Scale Manufacturing’ category for its impressive achievement of a 34 per cent reduction in electricity consumption in the period of evaluation.

Another Brandix business unit, Brandix Apparel Solutions Limited – Essentials at Ratmalana received a merit award in the commercial building category, for the effort it has made to improve its level of energy performance over the past five years. BASL – Essentials is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-certified facility by the US Green Building Council and is certified for ISO 50000, ISO 14000 and ISO 18000.

Commenting on the award won by BASL – Lingerie, the Company’s CEO Rajiv Malalasekera said: “The process of reducing the environmental footprint of our operations is a continuous one at Brandix. We keep exploring the boundaries of what is possible in our search for reductions in the use of natural resources, and this has resulted in noteworthy results in energy efficiency and water conservation.”

The National Energy Efficiency awards are presented by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA), a unit of the Ministry of Environment, as part of the government’s Vidulka Energy Week programme. Energy consumption data of three years is evaluated to determine the winners in each of the award categories.

Among the initiatives taken by BASL – Lingerie to reduce its electricity consumption were an upgrade of its
Rajitha Wellagiriya, Manager - Engineering at BASL - Lingerie (second left)
and Ajith Ranathunga, the Company’s Assistant Maintenance Manager,
receive the Vidulka Gold award from Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne
central air-conditioning system with a high energy-efficient water cooled chiller, equipping the plant with a building management system (BMS) to monitor, control and evaluate its energy performance, installation of a solar hot water system for the kitchen and laboratory, the replacement of all clutch motors with energy efficient servo motors and the optimisation of the compressed air distribution network.

The lighting system of the plant is a combination of natural and artificial lighting with skylights, LED and fluorescent bulbs, the company said.

Enterprise-wide Green initiatives have enabled the Brandix Group to reduce its energy cost per product by 15 per cent in 2013-14 over the preceding year, cut electricity cost per product by 12 per cent despite increased tariffs, and reduce its carbon footprint by 9 per cent. Renewable energy now makes up 20 per cent of the Group’s energy mix.

Previous Brandix Group winners of the ‘Vidulka’ National Energy Efficiency Awards include the Brandix Casualwear plant at Seeduwa in 2010 (Gold), Brandix Casualwear, Ratmalana (Silver) and Phoenix Industries, Makandura (Bronze) in 2011, and Phoenix Industries (Gold) and Brandix Essentials, Koggala (Silver) in 2012. The Group did not participate in the awards programme in 2013.

Brandix is the pioneer of and process leader in eco-friendly manufacture in Sri Lanka, and the first apparel manufacturer in the world to receive Platinum status for Green manufacture from the US LEED Green Building rating system.

In September 2012, the Group set itself the target of reducing its environmental footprint by a further 20 per cent by 2020, and released its maiden Sustainability Report, the first by a private company in Sri Lanka. To support this initiative and track its progress, Brandix has developed its own ‘Eco Index’ -- an assessment tool which can be used to measure the environmental performance of Brandix factories and offices across the Group and facilitates a fair and easy comparison between factories and clusters.


The depth of design talent and the degree of vertical integration that are unique to Brandix, Sri Lanka’s single largest apparel exporter, are to be demonstrated at a unique fashion show in Colombo on Saturday, 6th December, as one of the segments of the Sri Lanka Design Festival (SLDF).
Brandix designers at work on the ‘Urban Collective’
portfolio to be presented at SLDF 2014

Themed ‘Urban Collective,’ the show is an amalgamated representation of the expertise and products of several business units of the Brandix Group such as Casualwear, Intimate Apparel, Lingerie, Essentials and Finishing, as well as its backward integration partners Brandix Textiles, Textured Jersey Lanka and Quenby Lanka Prints, the company said.
While showcasing the design skills of multiple Brandix in-house designers, the innovative apparel modelled
on the runway will also depict the Group’s capabilities in the manufacture, finishing and printing of fabrics and its proficiency in producing bespoke clothing for ‘a day in the life of a hip young professional about town.’

Inspired by global trends in urban active-wear, the Brandix design team embraces urban street-wear culture to present ‘Urban Collective’ which offers solutions for every occasion from morning through evening, successfully fusing fashion with function for the complete lifestyle solution.

Brandix designers at work on ‘Urban Collective’
Brandix is one of the Fashion Industry Patrons of the 2014 edition of the Sri Lanka Design Festival, which takes place from 4th to 7th December at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre. Fulfilling the need for a global platform for the country’s growing design activity, the SLDF is one of South Asia’s most business-friendly and commercially successful global platforms for design and related industries.

The pioneer of the concept of ‘total solutions’ in Sri Lanka’s apparel sector and a preferred supplier to some of the top retail brands in the US and Europe, Brandix is also a benchmark and international award winner for eco-friendly manufacture and commitment to environmental best practice.


With up to US$ 50,000 to be won, every hour counts for innovators competing in ‘500 Hours’ -- the latest innovation competition hosted by the Brandix-led start-up seed accelerator Disrupt Unlimited. 

The company has invited innovators to register to attend a kick-off event in December 2014, at which a series of apparel industry related challenges are to be presented. These will subsequently be posted on the company’s website for online participants.

Applications to participate, available online at www.disruptunlimited.com, close at 11.59pm on Monday, 24th November 2014, and the 500 Hour competition will begin at the conclusion of the kick-off event in December, the company said.

Elaborating on this unique challenge, Disrupt Unlimited’s Chief Operating Officer Surendra Karunakaran said: “500 Hours goes beyond a traditional competition by enabling innovators from all backgrounds and disciplines to commercialise their technology-driven ideas and solve crucial challenges across the Apparel supply chain. Gaining rare insight into the opportunities in the Apparel, Textile, and Accessories industries, entrepreneurs who participate in this challenge are expected to go on to build game-changing start-ups.”

“Innovators, entrepreneurs, and problem-solvers with ambition in their genes are all invited to compete and solve some of the biggest global challenges faced in the apparel industry.” 

He said winning teams would have the opportunity to commercialise their ideas through Disrupt Unlimited’s four-month seed accelerator programme, which offers start-ups seed funding, office space, continuous mentorship, experienced advisors, practical workshops, networking opportunities, and legal and administrative services.

At the kick-off event in December, industry experts will pitch a set of global challenges with the largest market opportunities to the selected group of innovators. Participants will then form teams and begin to identify root causes and understand the apparel domain through factory visits and discussions with the experts.

Each team will have three weeks (500 hours) to work on a conceptual solution and pitch to be a part of the seed accelerator. Start-ups that make the cut will launch their entrepreneurial journeys with seed funding up to US$ 50,000 each.

“We believe a lot can be achieved in 500 hours,” Mr Karunakaran added. “Of course you could spend that time watching 7,000 YouTube clips, replying to 10,000 emails, or attending 250 meetings, but what if you could use that time to start your own company? For the best chance at success, a start-up needs three key ingredients: an exciting market opportunity, a great team, and a fantastic product. 500 Hours is about bringing together those elements to give aspiring entrepreneurs the edge from the outset.”

Launched earlier this year, Disrupt Unlimited runs a seed accelerator that seeks to inspire, mentor and fund start-ups with breakthrough, technology-driven solutions to disrupt products, practices, processes and business models in the Apparel, Textile and Accessories sectors.


On October 24th, a team of six Sri Lankans completed an overland expedition from Berlin to Battaramulla
on four wheels and two. The 12,500 km route followed parts of the old hippie trail of the 60s and the historic Silk Road, and it was also the first time Sri Lankans had ever attempted this by motorcycle. The group was flagged off at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on the 15th of September by the Sri Lankan Ambassador H.E. Mr. Karunatilaka Amunugama, as well as representatives of other diplomatic missions and resident Sri Lankans in Germany.

The team travelled through Germany into the Czech Republic and to the Alps mountain range in Austria and Italy. In Venice, they boarded a ferry for 33 hours, which took them to Patras in Greece. From there,
they journeyed through the remotest parts of Turkey, crossing into Iran, where they continued without any navigational equipment into Pakistan. There, the expedition explored the most isolated mountain regions of the country, where few foreigners have ever been. Finally, they crossed into India at Wagah.

The members of the expedition were Feroz Omar, Director, Brandix Lanka Limited, Major Nalaka Buddhadasa Rtd. Capt, Kshemendra Weeratunga, Senior Captain & Flight Instructor, SriLankan Airlines, Javana Fernando and Kenneth McAlpine, co-founders of Kulu Safaris and entrepreneur John Durrant. Feroz Omar was accompanied by his wife Amina who travelled with the team up to Istanbul.

Major Nalaka Buddhadasa said, “We experienced extreme conditions along the way,” adding “Temperature variations from -2 degrees to 48 degrees; snow, hail, rain, sand storms; mountains, forests and deserts; dead animal carcasses on the road; Turkish traffic and Indian lorry drivers.” Capt. Weeratunga said he has flown over these areas for many years and that it was nice to see so many places at ground level.
The Expeditors - (Left to Right) Major Nalaka Buddhadasa, Javana
Fernando, Feroz Omar and Kshemendra Weeratunga with their motorcycles

Yet, the group was clearly taken aback by the amazing hospitality, support and kindness shown to its members on this adventure. Strangers approached them bearing gifts of fruit, chocolates and pistachios; lorry drivers set up small fires along the way and made them tea. In addition to this, they were cheered on by people on the road, with cars honking their horns to acknowledge their efforts. To make the crossing through Pakistan a viable option, they received incredible support from the national army and the Sri Lankan High Commission in Islamabad.

The group said that the trip would not have been possible without the assistance of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, the Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion, Hon. Faiszer Musthapha, the Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, Mrs. Kshenuka D. Senewiratne, Major General Chagie Gallage, Brigadier Jayantha Gunaratne, Brigadier Lalantha Gamage, Ralf Karpinski, Sevandhi Fernando and Dilhan Jayawerene, and made special acknowledgement of Wilhelm Hevert in Germany, who helped the team from the beginning to the end.

“This was a journey of a lifetime,” Feroz Omar said, “with memories we will share forever. We travelled as a team, supported, annoyed and motivated each other. Each of us had a crucial role to play, and the camaraderie and laughter along the way helped us to get through the more testing times. We’re already discussing our next adventure. Watch this space!”






In the wake of unprecedented failures of entities, some of which used to be giants in their respective business arena, the role of the board has come to the spotlight than ever before. Enron in 2000 had $ 100 billion annual revenue and was valued by the stock market at nearly $ 80 billion. It was ranked seventh in Fortune’s list of the largest US firms. (Tricker 2011). 

In many of the corporate scandals, it is clearly seen that following an international governance code does not necessarily insulate a corporate from an eventual failure. The board of Lehman Brothers Inc. had ten independent directors, half aged over 70 with two in their 80s. At Enron the role of CEO and chairman were split, and the audit committee was chaired by a leading independent accounting academic and a raft of eminent independent non-executive directors (Tricker 2011). 

Leadership - Clutch or Choke

The aim of any business leader is to steer the organisation to new heights by taking an acceptable level of business risk. The prize for taking such calculated risk is the return generated for the shareholders and retained for the future growth. In fact, many businesses have been successful because their leaders do a better job of taking risks and not because they do a better job in avoiding risk. Reaching the pinnacle of success may be achieved through decent execution of carefully conceived strategies in a conducive economic environment. However, when the business environment is shaken by shock-waves such as financial crises or when ramifications of short sighted decisions made by leaders unfold, keeping the momentum going becomes insurmountable and are at stake. When the volatility and uncertainty threaten the survival, the pride of being at the top inhibits the ability of some leaders to make responsible realistic decisions. Such leaders very often dig a hole for themselves by denying the reality. Paul Sullivan, in his book ‘Clutch’- Why some people excel under pressure and others do not - explains “Clutch”. Clutch simply put, is the ability to do what you can normally do under immense pressure. According to Paul Sullivan, most people fail under extreme situations. They may be able to do what they do just fine under everyday conditions, but when the pressure mounts, their ability leaves them. They choke. Paul Sullivan argues that if you failed in some way, admit it and take responsibility; your client will respect you more. Simply say, “I tried and made a mistake.”

In its last financial statements in 2000, Enron had reported a revenue of approximately $ 101 billion which is a 153% increase from the previous year. CEO, Jeffrey K. Skilling had hailed the solidity of the leadership in the annual report under the heading “outdistance the competition” and asserted that Enron’s performance in 2000 was a success by any measure, as they continued to solidify their leadership in each of their major businesses. In making this statement with collaborating numbers generated through a masterpiece of manipulation, he would not have envisaged the twenty four years jail sentence and the payment of $ 45 million restitution six years later.
Figure 1 - Excerpts from Enron 2000 annual report
Olympus- Financial Jiggery -Pokery

After a decade from the demise of Enron, a bold British business leader in a 92 year old Japanese corporate giant challenged the chairman who had promoted him for the financial Jiggery –Pokery involving $ 1.7 billion. Michael Woodford was made president of Olympus—the company to which he had dedicated thirty years of his career—he became the first Westerner ever to climb the ranks of one of Japan’s corporate giants. Woodford learned about a series of bizarre mergers and acquisitions from an investigative journal called Facta and he was incredulous. Woodford was made aware of over-priced acquisitions and exorbitant consultancy fees to recover losses that Olympus had made in investments in the years of Japan’s bubble economy of the 1980’s which subsequently went bad. In the series of suspicious transactions an advisory fee of $ 687 million had been paid to boutique U.S. financial firm for the $ 2 billion acquisition of British medical equipment firm Gyrus in 2008 which is at a third of the purchase price.

Taking the matter forward, Woodford commissioned an external report by PwC into the fees paid to the company’s advisers and it revealed a shameful catalogue of errors. Presenting the report to the board, he requested the resignation of Kikukawa and Hisashi Mori, the executive vice president. At the board meeting on 14 October convened ostensibly to discuss concerns over governance, Kikukawa announced that the agenda had been altered and the only thing to discuss was the termination of the Woodford contact (Julian Ryall, 2012). The Olympus board of directors could simply not give him an answer and sacked him.

One may now be interested to know, having lost his job, the top position in a global multinational, where Woodford, is today? Is he jobless or worried? Had he paid scant attention to the issue and kept his mouth shut, he would have saved his job and still continue to be the President.

Woodford immediately fled the country in fear of his life but was bold to go straight to the press—making him the first CEO of a global multinational to blow the whistle on his own company. Four national newspapers for first time in history honored him as the businessperson of the year. It is interesting and astonishing to see his response to the below two questions in an interview:

How has your life changed, both personally and professionally, since the Olympus scandal came to light?
Totally. I now spend my time speaking around the world, as I care passionately about sharing the lessons of the Olympus scandal and dedicating my time to my human rights and road safety charities. I’m busier than ever before!

He had been offered two board level positions which he refused as he has now realized, life is more than the corporate life. He has chosen to help those who are desperately in need. 

Business Tycoon in Jail- can their leadership be renewed
Jeff K. Skilling former Enron CEO is currently serving 24 years jail sentence. Ken Lay, former Enron Chairman and CEO, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy but, following his death from a heart attack in 20016, had his guilty verdict wiped out as he had not been able to challenge the conviction. In the case of Tyco International, two former executives, CEO and his second in command were both sentenced in 2005 to between 8 and 25 years in prison for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the manufacturing company. The US telecoms giant admitted a $ 11bn fraud in July 2002. Bernie Ebbers, former CEO, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy and given a 25 year prison sentence. (Christopher Alken 2012).

History provides evidence of survival and success for ethical behavior at tough times, although such decisions may not been fruitful in the eyes of stakeholders whilst sooner or later society may punish the unethical behavior and eventually sub consciousness will continue to punish until death. The paragraph above provides evidence of ramifications which arose from reckless and unethical behavior of individuals who once were supposedly business leaders.

An asset that is priceless

Financial reporting standards have now been evolved to value any item that an entity could control and bring economic benefits to an entity. It may not be an exaggeration to state that the one of the most valuable assets which is priceless are the leaders with higher level of moral development. Such leaders’ inevitably set the tone for a culture of honesty and create a sustainable and socially responsible business. According to Professor Lawrence Kohlberg at the Center for Moral Education of Harvard University, Ethical behavior of an individual can be analyzed into 3 broader levels.  As depicted in Figure 2 People who are in Level 1, will drive their behavior based on self-interest or punishment. An unethical behavior could emerge for a financial benefit which has been the case in many corporate frauds. People in Level 2, in contrast, tend to characterize behavior based on others’ expectations which means unethical behavior may be judged as right because it is a request of the boss and he/she justifies the wrong act to be right. People in Level 3 (universal ethical principle) have the courage to make autonomous making to ‘what is morally right’ without being influenced by external pressures. Such individuals in the business world know when to say ‘no’ to unethical act and have the courage to lose the job for human dignity and for the well-being of the society. The fundamental question before us is do we have business leaders of Level 3?
Figure 2 - Levels of Morality Development
References
Alkan, C. (02/2012). Unhappy 10th Birthday. Accounting and Business International, 20-22.
Ballinger, B. (2011). How to Become Clutch. REALTOR.
Commitee, T. P. (2011). Olympus Investigation Report. 
Enron. (2001). Annual Report. 
Kohlberg, L. (1975). The Cognitive- Development Approach to Moral Education. 
Ryall, J. (2012). Limited Exposure. Accounting and Business International, 24-27.
Ryall, J. (2014). Business as usual, but not for Olympus whistle-blower Michael Woodford. BCCJ ACUMEN.
Tricker, B. (2012). Corporate Governance- Principles, Policies and Practices. UK: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.
Woodford, M. (2012). Inside the Olympus Scandal. 
Bruce, R. (2010). Repo reverberations. Accounting and Business , 25-26.

Copyright: LLS Indunil


If any individual can be considered the father of Sri Lanka’s emergence as an apparel manufacturer of global significance it would be Martin Trust, as a tribute to whom a coffee table book has been published by the Brandix Group on behalf of the industry and Trust’s Sri Lankan business partners.

‘Built on Trust’ is a 238-page treasury of images and exceptional insight into the founding in 1970 of MAST Industries in the Canton, Massachusetts home of Martin and Dena Trust and what ensued in the four decades that followed, with an emphasis on the role played by Trust in placing Sri Lanka firmly on the world’s apparel sourcing map.

Described as ‘the story of an industry and a man who helped transform it over four decades,’ this unique volume documents the evolution of Sri Lanka’s apparel industry through the eyes of two of its present-day giants -- Brandix and MAS Holdings -- as well as through contributions from Trust’s closest business associates such as Les Wexner, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of L Brands, Inc. (formerly Limited Brands), Jack Welch, former Executive Vice President of MAST Industries Inc. and Alok Malhotra, former Managing Director - Indian Subcontinent for Tommy Hilfiger.

Pioneers’ reunion: (From left) Dena Trust, Les Wexner, Martin Trust,
Abigail Wexner, Ashroff Omar and Sharen Turney at the presentation of the book
A reunion of some of these pioneers took place at the Columbus, Ohio, home of Les Wexner recently when Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar joined Wexner to present the book to Martin Trust. Among the eminent guests present were Charles McGuigan – Chief Operating Officer, L Brands / President, Mast Global, Sharen Turney – CEO, Victoria’s Secret, Bruce Soll – SVP/Counsel, L Brands, Denise Landman – CEO Pink, Margaret Macdonald – President, VS Stores, Margaret Wright – EVP Brand Production & Sourcing, L Brands and Jim Schwartz – President & CEO, MGF Sourcing.

Recognised as one of the pioneers of ‘speed sourcing’ for the American fashion retail sector, Martin Trust founded his first business, Mast Industries, in 1970 with a modest $1,000. In 1978, his company, a contract manufacturer, importer and distributor of clothing, merged with The Limited Stores, later Limited Brands and now L Brands Inc.

Trust established his first joint venture partnership in Sri Lanka -- a casualwear operation with the Omar family owned company LM Apparels in 1986, before the incorporation of Brandix. He has since invested in over two dozen joint venture companies in the country. In 1994 the Government of Sri Lanka honoured him with the title of ‘Ranjana’ for his contribution towards the development of the country’s apparel industry.

In messages replete with personal anecdotes of their interactions with Martin Trust, Ashroff Omar, MAS Holdings Chairman Mahesh Amalean and Jewelex Trading Chairman Ajith Dias pay personal tribute to his vision and commitment, and the value of the knowledge and mentorship they received in the fledgling days of their businesses.

Les Wexner in his introduction to the book states: “Marty’s role in the development of Sri Lanka’s textile and apparel industry is well known, and we have benefitted greatly from it. Perhaps less well known is Marty’s foresight in taking us to China in 1977, well before it opened up to the West.  In an age where the rest of the world has only recently discovered the potential of Asia, it is well to remember that a visionary named Martin Trust not only saw that opportunity, but also played an important role in shaping an exciting future for us and the entire industry.”

Currently the President of Brandot International which he founded in 2001, Martin Trust continues to hold investments in several joint venture partnerships with apparel and textile companies in Sri Lanka. He also serves on the board of Virtusa Corporation, the information technology services company.

‘Built on Trust’ can be read online by visiting www.brandix.com/built-on-trust.pdf


Textured Jersey Lanka PLC (TJL) has reported a top line of Rs. 3.5bn and net profit of Rs. 282mn for the quarter ended 30th September 2014 (2Q FY2014/15). According to Mr. Bill Lam, Chairman of TJL, this marked an emphatic recovery from the temporary setback suffered in the previous quarter, with sales up 29% and net profit up 72% on a quarter on quarter basis. Further, on a year on year basis the company was back on a strong growth trajectory with both sales and net profit up 7%.     

Mr. Lam further stated that gross profit for 2Q FY2014/15 reduced by 2% year on year to Rs. 339mn, mainly due to lower margins arising from a combination of factors which included changes in product mix, outsourcing and higher dyes and chemical costs. However, the company managed to cut down its administrative and distribution expenses by 4% to Rs. 99mn, which resulted in the operating profit remaining at Rs. 249mn, on par with the corresponding quarter of last year.

TJL continued to maintain its near debt-free balance sheet as at 30th September 2014, with a strong cash
Textured Jersey Lanka PLC
position of Rs. 1.6bn, and only a temporary overdraft of Rs. 366mn. However, according to Mr. Lam, the
cash balance was 21% less compared with the previous year, due to dividends and capital expenditure during the current quarter. As a result, net finance income for 2Q FY2014/15 was Rs. 16mn, 10% lower compared to last year. Lower interest rates also contributed to this reduction in net finance income. The other operating income consisting of technical service fees of Rs. 21mn, allowed TJL to close the quarter at a net profit of Rs. 282mn, an improvement of 7% from last year.

Commenting on strategic initiatives, Mr. Lam highlighted that the construction phase of the multi fuel co-generation boiler plant was successfully completed during the quarter and test operations had been commenced. The plant will be fully operational in the coming quarters and is expected to generate substantial savings in energy costs. Similarly, the recently added 10-12% capacity will be fully utilised during the coming quarters with US demand coming back on track.

He concluded by stating that with strategic investments made in recent times coming into fruition, combined with a strong focus on innovation, quality and execution, the management is confident that TJL will be able to continue its growth trajectory and create shareholder value for the foreseeable future.


The Brandix Group has pledged to support efforts by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to stimulate invention and innovation as one of the initiatives of the latter’s World Class University Project.

As a first step in this partnership, the Brandix-led start-up seed accelerator Disrupt Unlimited accepted an invitation to be one of the presenters at a recent workshop organised by the University at which selected inventors who have commercialised their products presented their success stories under the topics of Solutions, Ideas, Inventions, Innovations and Products/Patents.

Addressing aspiring inventors and innovators participating in the workshop, Surendra Karunakaran, Chief Operating Officer of Disrupt Unlimited said his company’s support to the university’s initiative would take the form of working with the entrepreneurial pool that will be built by the University to solve apparel sector specific challenges.

The principal challenge for the apparel industry, Mr Karunakaran said, is to make substantially lower prices possible through innovative products, accurate demand forecasting, integration of supply chains and application of technological innovations in manufacturing processes.

Among the opportunities for innovation he highlighted were harnessing Big Data for demand forecasting; customised 3D printed garments as a result of the integration of technology and the supply chain, and innovative products such as health-tracking garments, nanotubes and nanobots.
Disrupt Unlimited Chief Operating Officer Surendra Karunakaran (left)
addresses the workshop

The workshop at the auditorium of the Faculty of Graduate Studies of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura brought together senior academics, entrepreneurs, inventors, undergraduates and Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne, Secretary of The Ministry of Higher Education and representatives of the National Intellectual Property Office of Sri Lanka. 

The World Class University Project under Prof. Ranil de Silva, has been developed as a focal point for harnessing, encouraging and promoting innovative skills of undergraduates and postgraduates of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to provide socio-economic development and nation building through inventions and innovations, to formulate strategies and to inspire the nation by instilling an innovative culture with the facilitation of appropriate technical and financial frameworks.

Launched earlier this year, Disrupt Unlimited runs a seed accelerator that seeks to inspire, mentor and fund start-ups with breakthrough, technology-driven solutions to disrupt products, practices, processes and business models in the Apparel, Textile and Accessories sectors. Among the company’s identified roles are collaboration with industry partners, securing the support of private partners, mentors, and advisors, development of idea/entrepreneur pipelines, building a network of investors in Sri Lanka and overseas, investing in start-ups, running seed accelerator programmes and supporting start-ups through commercialisation.

In order to build a stronger ecosystem for innovation in Sri Lanka, Brandix already has partnerships with the Universities of Colombo, Peradeniya, Moratuwa, Kelaniya, Sri Jayewardenepura and Wayamba and the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT). The Group also partners the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Global Start-up Labs (MIT-GSL) Sri Lanka programme, and sponsors the robotics competitions of several other universities and institutions as well.


 
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