LAKARCADE – A significant turning point in Sri Lankan handicrafts. 0 1302

By : Cameron Blake

With Sri Lanka becoming the number one travel destination according to The Lonely Planet rankings, the success of the novelty gift and souvenir industry, which is one of the major developing categories in tourism, is thus far stabilized. One could say LAKARCADE’s entry into the industry is well-timed, and it is the view of LAKARCADE CEO and Managing Director Anil Koswatte that it is here to cater to the demanding market, by setting up its flagship store in the heart of Colombo.

LAKARCADE is one of the biggest novelty Gift & Souvenir shopping malls in Asia located in the heart of Colombo, LAKARCADE offers a wide array of authentic Sri Lankan souvenirs and novelty gift items. The fine range on display includes carefully selected teas, spices, traditional art & craft items, batiks, gems, jewelry, silverware and many more creative products.

“Sri Lanka is now focusing more on the tourism industry, and we need to exploit this opportunity as much as possible like other South East Asian countries. When you look at tourism development, novelty gift and souvenir industry is one of the major developing categories in the world that contribute to tourism. Gem and jewelry, spa products and handicrafts are subcategories in this industry,” Koswatte said.

According to Koswatte, the statistics of tourists’ arrivals are on the rise, with numbers increasing every year; Sri Lanka currently has reached a mark of 2.5 million arrivals per year. He believes that Sri Lanka has the potential to reach the heights of countries like Thailand and Malaysia, and increase these numbers up to 20 million. As a Sri Lankan entrepreneur, Koswatte states that LAKARCADE is getting ready to take up this challenge by aiding the Government as a private entity, to boost economic growth from grassroots level by increasing its service to the rural crafts community.

LakArcade Sri Lanka
Koswatte says that almost all of the products sold at the store are manufactured by village- or cottage-based craftsmen, with the exception of some products being sourced by local but established manufacturers. Crafts and artefacts from Batticaloa, Puttalam and Jaffna, covering areas from North to South, are sourced by LAKARCADE.
“Products that require a quality assurance such as tea, coffee, and spa products, we have reputed and established local manufacturers who supply for us. All products are manufactured here and all resources and expertise are local; we’re not importing anything. So, the majority of the products are produced in the cottage industry,”

According to Koswatte, LAKARCADE provides the rural craftsmen the ability to demand their prices. He said that no bargaining happens on their part, and therefore the craftsmen are assured a reasonable income for their efforts. “We don’t tell them this is your price. They come with their prices and we accept.”

LakArcade Sri Lanka

Koswatte added that the suppliers, the cottage industry manufacturers, are very talented, creative and efficient. However, according to certain market standards and trends, some changes needs to be made, and this is where LAKARCADE collaborates with their designers and produces an end product that has more market value. “The manufacturers are very independent people. There are as per my calculations, 3000-odd suppliers of handicraft in Si Lanka. We purchase from some of these manufacturers, either what they are producing according to their designs, or after we do our own designs and value additions.”

LAKARCADE has recruited a very famous design consultant, Senaka De Silva. His expertise is utilised into understanding current market trends, and incorporated into the products produced by the suppliers.

“Suppliers come and see the stores. They can see the consumer points, consumer behaviour, market trends, what components in their production they should enhance such as packaging and weight. It’s an exposure program for them also. This is where the manufacturer and the buyer meets. They can see for themselves how the market behaves to their products,” he explained.
With a wide range of items such as gem and jewelry, handloom, Sri Lankan batik, Ceylon spices, Ceylon tea and coffee and handicrafts, the exclusivity of a gift shop such as this is its ability to make a global presence through e-commerce, says Koswatte. “We already have the facility in place for customers to do their shopping online. We’re joining with Ikman.lk and we’re aiming to have a global presence like Amazon and Alibaba as vendors.”

“Our market segment here is 80% tourists. Some people come and order items big in size such as wooden elephants or artefacts, and we will deliver it to their doorstep through our air-freight or sea cargo,” Koswatte explained.

LakArcade Sri Lanka

The team at LAKARCADE is equipped with expertise knowledge as they all have prior experience working in a similar scope. With ease, one can observe a cross-section of Sri Lankan heritage and culture at LAKARCADE.

Koswatte says that unless marketing linkage is provided, the village- or cottage-based craftsman doesn’t get reasonable prices for their efforts. He states that the backward integration in the business, from buyer to manufacturer linking, is one of its main goals. Therefore, the sustainability of this business in the long run with adequate income to the craftsman is promised when market facilities such as LAKARCADE is available in the Centre of Colombo, aiming the tourists.

“As a marketing linkage institution, LAKARCADE does not produce any items sold at the store. All these are produced in the village level, either in the cottage industry or either in a rural level craftsman-owned business. Most of the products come from the cottage industry,” Koswatte explained.
Sri Lanka has a significant advantage on gem and jewellery, being one of the major countries manufacturing gems and jewellery, in addition to tea and spices, according to Koswatte, and he further added that Sri Lanka has the competitor advantage, with the ability to demand higher prices in these categories. “If the consumers aren’t happy with our product, including our gem and jewellery, they can return it and we can pay back. We have the money-back guarantee as well.”
Koswatte says that from the point of country, LAKARCADE plays the part of brand-building or destination-marketing for Sri Lanka, and that it is their corporate responsibility, objective, vision and goal.

“The tourism industry should sustain with a good image and attractive campaign and we are part of it. Our Sri Lankan authentic products should enhance the total value of the Sri Lankan brand. I believe LAKARCADE plays a major role in providing this assurance,” Koswatte elaborated.
LAKARCADE truly Sri Lankan with a vision “To become the global representative of authentic Sri Lankan Novelty Gift & Souvenir items by preserving our heritage”.

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Circular Economies: Is Sri Lanka’s Waste Crisis a Wasted Opportunity 0 152

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Sri Lanka is currently in the midst of a waste crisis with landfills running out of space and the costs of disposal spiralling rapidly. A recent report by the WWF named Sri Lanka as the fifth largest contributor to marine plastic pollution and the level of recycling in Sri Lanka in particular for plastics falls well below global averages.

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The Sri Lankan economy on the other hand, continues to suffer from a significant balance of trade deficit and a weakening rupee in part due to imports for raw materials such as plastics, aluminium, paper/cardboard and electronics. Finding a way to increase the domestic ability to sort and recycle these materials for re-use in a circular way may in fact provide a solution for both the environment and the economy.

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A linear economy, which typifies most products and materials here in Sri Lanka, is one whereby products are manufactured, used and then disposed of as waste. A circular economy by contrast, is one that aims to eliminate waste through the continual use of resources by reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing and recycling raw materials and products at the end of their usable lives. This therefore closes the loop on the manufacturing process thereby reducing the need for new materials.

 

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The waste problem is not just limited to the Sri Lankan economy as materials such as plastics do not biodegrade and therefore will continue to exist until a solution is found. Plastic breaks down into what is known as microplastics after some time which significantly harms the environment as animals ingest this and toxins from the material itself seep into the water table. Recent studies suggest that we are ingesting the equivalent of one credit card every week. The health impacts of the plastic epidemic are likely to grow significantly.

Cont..

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Aquafresh – Water that is pure as nature intended it to be! 0 763

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Pure, natural, and hygienic drinking water bottled under the brand name Aquafresh by Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd. which extracts its supplies from deep ground water sources in a rain forest in the Labugamkanda mountains, like all modern health trends is gaining rapid popularity among people seeking a healthier addition to their lifestyles. The unique water with no added chemicals whatsoever contains all natural mineral balances and the bottling company relatively enjoys various standards from accredited authorities which have guided the company to uplift its quality of work.

Mr. Christopher Joshua | Managing Director, Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd.
Mr. Christopher Joshua | Managing Director, Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd.

BiZnomics met Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd. Managing Director Christopher Joshua who started.  “We launched our company in the year 2000 at a time marketing bottled water in Sri Lanka was unthinkable as it was freely available, and in addition there were a few bottled water manufacturers in operation as well”. The Access Group identifying the need for pure, good quality drinking water, in its quest found an aquifer – a layer of soil which retains water – the perfect source in fine deep springs in Labugamkanda in a geologically unique rain forest. The natural springs 200 feet below surface are protected by impermeable upper and lower confining layers, making the aquifer water pure as nature intended it to be.

Continued Managing Director Christopher Joshua, “We put up an environmental friendly factory and bottling plant in the location of the springs from where pure water is extracted, avoiding contamination through surface contact”. Yet in keeping with manufactory requirements to purify bottled water through a certified process before marketing, the company invested in a biological purification process adopting the four steps: aeration, slow sand filtering, micron filtering, and UV treatment which preserves the natural mineral balance at the aquifer.

The company was meticulous in selection of its stainless-steel machinery to ensure that rust and corrosion do not rise. The machines which are oil and grease free have been manufactured at optimum level on schedules in conformity to the company’s certifications and standards: SLS 894, ISO 9001, ITQI Brussels that specify requirements to consistently provided products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. The ISO 22000 certification and the Dutch HACCP encourage the organization to identify hazards which might occur in the food products process and to take stringent action to prevent same. Meanwhile the American FDA allows the company to sell water in the European market.

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Following the success of the 5 gallon polycarbonate dispenser bottle introduced to the market in 2001 the iconic range of PET bottles came on four years later. The 200 ml bottles in contrast to the 5 gallons are not re-filled. Washing of bottles before re-filling is a fully automated process with the adoption of high pressure nozzles, disinfectants, hot water, chlorine water and lastly drinking water. Managing Director Christopher Joshua says, “The unique design of the PET bottle, which is a first in

the country, revolutionized the bottle industry. Bottled water regulations require drinking water in transparent bottles. Tetrapack (paper) is not allowed although a few glass bottles are in use”. The bottling method for both PET and FG (five gallon) is fully automated and so is the labelling.

The client base of Aquafresh is over 5000 comprising both domestic consumers and corporates including the United Nations’ Organization office, Sri Lankan Airlines, Nestle, Kingsbury, Softlogic, and international chains such as Subway, Burger King, Coffee Bean, Gloria Jean’s Coffees and Bread Talk all which have opted for the superior quality, smooth and refreshing taste, exclusive packaging and the exceptional service that enhances its value – attributes that have garnered  Aquafresh Sri Lanka to be the undisputed leader in the local bottled water industry.

The company engages in advertising campaigns on cable TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. In addition, based on a consumer educative concept, its Lorries travel across the island, are branded. Monthly promotions on selected locations in the Western Province and social media campaigns of Facebook and Instagram are also carried out. This propaganda consistently communicates the quality standards, certification and accolades of Aquafresh water.

 

In a move to repay nature for her bounty of pure water, the staff of Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd has planted trees around the area, established herb gardens which are diligently maintained and cared for, in accordance with environmental laws and regulations. But their gratitude to nature goes far beyond that. Since the area of its bottling plant is of great importance in maintaining the forest surrounding, the company deeply cares for its environment and strives to do what is best for it always.

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On Left – Mr. Shanil Perera – Chief Operating Officer On Right – Mr. Gamini Kalubowila – General Manager

Aquafresh is the only Sri Lankan brand of alkaline drinking water in the market. Alkaline water in known to contain many health benefits with the key element being that it works against acidifies in the body, contributing towards prevention of illness and disease. Director/Chief Operating Officer Shanil Perera states: “The uniqueness of Aquafresh is many. We have invested in the mechanisms required to provide the nature’s gift of pure water to our customers. We live by our slogan and intention; ‘bringing nature to life’. The natural vital minerals in Aquafresh, iron, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, sodium, potassium, sulphates, and silicon bring health benefits and goodness in every sip.

Seeking business ventures in uncertain times requires exertion of new super human strength of the organization’s director. Aquafresh of the Access Group of the companies has led a new course of sustainability while navigating changes in the now fast moving bottled water industry.

Demand is growing as a result with rising consumer confidence. Consumers see brands as a social status symbol; they want aspirational brands which create a window of opportunity for Aquafresh. All these factors make the market extremely attractive for the immediate future for Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd.

By: T.V. Perera
Photography By: Eranga Pilimatalawwe