Interview with Yohan Lawrence

Yohan Lawrence
Yohan Lawrence
Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association
Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association

Which are the countries on which Sri Lanka is dependant on for raw materials for garment manufacturing? How have the price fluctuations in these countries affected Sri Lankan manufacturers?

We have a large supply base in Sri Lanka with 5 large fabric mills operating locally. There’s also a large supply base of accessories – elastics, trims, bra cups, wires etc, as also value additions such as printing, embellishment, and wet processing of garments that is available in Sri Lanka. Having said which, however we do also import a large amount of raw material, most of which is in fabric form from China and other sources in the Far East. Price fluctuations would affect Sri Lankan Apparel manufacturers to the same extent as our competitors. There is some degree of contractual agreements between either the buyer, or the manufacturer and the fabric mill, so often these are covered off in these agreements.

How is the power supply situation there for industries? How have been the fuel costs over last 2 years?

Sri Lanka has a reliable national grid that provides power to a large (and growing) part of the country so this has not been an area of concern for the manufacturer. A large part of our power is from thermal generation, so the Country has been affected by international oil price movements. The Government has invested in large coal powered plants and once these are fully operational there will be a reduction in the cost of providing power.

What is the importance of women work force in Sri Lankan apparel industry? What has been done to safeguard their interests?

Women play a vital role in our industry. A large proportion of our machine operators or team members are women. Women are also well represented across all management functions. Sri Lanka is lucky to have a sound and well respected set of laws that protects women. Most manufacturing units provide facilities such as transport, medical and meals in order to ensure the well-being of all employees. Health and Safety standards across units are all very high in order to provide a safe working environment. A number of our members have specific programmes for female employees that help empower women, and will support a number of initiatives in the broader community to safeguard the interests of women.

How many members are currently associated with your association? What have been notable achievements by the association?

We currently have a membership of 71 companies. A number of these companies are however, large groups with multiple manufacturing units in the Country. We estimate that our membership would represent 75 to 80% of the exports of apparel out of Sri Lanka. We have a large degree of co-operation both between members, and with the other Associations we sit with at the JAAF. Through the JAAF we have a strong unified voice that is able to represent the industry at all levels. As members of the JAAF there’s an undertaking that any representation is made through the JAAF rather than at the level of the individual Association. This is fairly unique and contributes immensely to the ability of the Association to represent its membership.

What the short term plans of your association? Would you like to make any important announcement through this medium?

Generally the Association exists to serve its membership, so the plans tend to move with the requirement of the membership.
Published on: 28/06/2014

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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