Since its inception, Ocean Lanka has established itself as Sri Lanka’s largest weft knitted fabric manufacturer, overseeing all four phases of fabric production from knitting to dyeing, printing and finishing.
As Ocean Lanka, Sri Lanka’s largest weft knitted fabric manufacturer, steps into its 25th glorious year, it is an ideal occasion to look back at its many historic milestones about a company that is proudly part of world’s largest knitted fabric market. Ocean Lanka, a rare breed in the textile industry, has pioneered many firsts in Sri Lanka’s textile and apparel sector and stands among the few companies to remain economically viable amid decades of crushing competition from local textile mills and from manufacturers of neighboring countries.
An Eventful History
Ocean Lanka was incorporated as a private limited company in 1994 – and was promoted by Mr. Chung Fong Ha along with Sri Lanka’s renowned business leaders Mr. A.K.L.Hirdaramani and Mr. Feroz Omar. With an initial capital of 5 million USD, construction work began in 1995. Production officially commenced in 1996 with the operation of the 88,000 sqft. dyeing and finishing plant. A major part of the machinery was obtained from Japan’s Fukuhara Industrial & Trading Co. Ltd. and Germany based Deutsche Babcock AG.
By the new millennium Ocean Lanka’s production capacity surpassed one million lbs. for the first time in its history. As part of the pledge to sustainability and ecological best practices, the company obtained the ISO 14001 certification in 2003. Most notable achievements in the first decade of the millennium include, the introduction of Lycra® stretch fabrics and the double padding technology to Sri Lanka.
Following a 2.5 million USD investment in 2004, a two-story building with 82,000 sqft. production area was commissioned for commercial yarn dyeing. With an annual output of 2.5 million lbs. the yarn dyeing operation offers a wide variety of blends and professional service at competitive prices. In the early 2010s, Ocean Lanka became the first manufacturer within the textile and apparel industry of Sri Lanka, to adopt the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Additionally, the company invested 5 million USD to replace the conventional overflow dyeing machines with air flow dyeing machines, which provide greater water and energy savings.
Further on, latest developments in the sustainability front saw the company adopting the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) global foundation program and Higg Facility Environmental Module. In 2019, Ocean Lanka became the first-ever manufacturer within the textile and apparel industry of Sri Lanka, to receive the honour of achieving the bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER status.
A Pioneer in Textile Industry
A fresh revamp of direction in 2009 pushed Ocean Lanka’s focus to fabric printing. This eventually paved way to the commissioning of the first state-of-the-art digital printing machine in 2015. The 466,000 USD investment created a ripple effect in the local textile industry, opening up a plethora of unique designs, exclusive prints, perfected details and unlimited colours.
Resurgence in the global textile market added an atmosphere of new excitement in the company, which went on to win the much coveted ‘Highest Export Turnover’ special award and ‘Best Performer in Research & Development’ gold award at the 27th Annual NCE Export Awards 2019. Today Ocean Lanka’s high quality, world class fabrics are supplied to renowned international brands including Victoria’s Secret, PVH (Tommy Hilfiger/Calvin Klein), Next, Nike, Uniqlo, GAP, Amazon, Michael Kors, Marks and Spencer, Lacoste, Puma, Intimissimi and Hanes.
Since its inception, Ocean Lanka has established itself as Sri Lanka’s largest weft knitted fabric manufacturer, overseeing all four phases of fabric production from knitting to dyeing, printing and finishing. Ocean Lanka ended financial year 2018/19 with a turnover of Rs. 16.5 billion, where supplies to exporters during the period amounted to Rs. 14.6 billion. During the period, the company recorded a 23% net profit growth, while the net return on capital (ROI) was at an astounding 60%. Additionally, the company contributed over Rs. 4 billion as net foreign exchange earnings and approximately Rs. 300 million in taxes to the state.
A Culture of Accountability
Dr. Austin Au, Ocean Lanka’s Managing Director states: “25 years ago we started with only 150 employees and our initial production was at 330,000 lbs. of fabric a month. Today we have more than 1900 employees and our production capacity has escalated up to a little over 03 million lbs. of fabric and yarn a month. This wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication that our employees have shown. We are immensely proud of everything we have achieved together during these 25 years.”
“We have a wealth of experience at Ocean Lanka, where some of our staff members joining the company 25 years ago. Our people love exceeding expectations, which stems from a culture that encourages accountability and ownership no matter what their role”, he added.
The secrete sauce of Ocean Lanka’s performance is its people-first culture and the belief for continuous improvement. With its classically intrinsic motivation, sense of purpose and a greater level of personal investment and engagement of the past two decades, Ocean Lanka will characteristically continue its lead in the next 25 years of textile innovations as well.
Ocean Lanka senior management team at 25th year commemorative celebration