John Keells supermarket chain to expand | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

John Keells supermarket chain to expand

Krishan Balendra
Krishan Balendra

John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) will continue to expand its supermarket chain and look for new opportunities to invest in the leisure industry, JKH Executive Director Krishan Balendra said. The company operates 64 supermarkets which is primarily concentrated in the Western province.

“We hope to have a substantial increase in the number of supermarkets in the country this year. There is still lot of potential for growth in the supermarket sector,” he said. Surveys reveal that only around 15-20 percent of grocery shopping takes place in supermarkets, whereas it is around 50 percent in Thailand.

Ceylon Cold Stores trading as Elephant House under JKH, plans to expand its bottling and ice cream production capacity.

“We are looking for opportunities to invest in hotels as there is vast room for growth in the tourism industry which still attracts only around two million visitors a year, whereas Vietnam which has a similar past as ours, gets around eight million visitors and Cambodia five million,” Balendra said.

Sri Lanka attracted 2.1 million tourists in 2016 and has set a target of 2.3 million this year. The number of tourist arrivals recorded a 14 percent year-on-year growth last year with a revenue exceeding USD 3 billion. With regard to the Water Front project, Balendra said work on the project is progressing well with various sections reaching completion. “Initially there were delays in piling which took some time. However, we are on schedule and will complete the work on the project by 2019.

JKH invested USD 850 million on the two-tower apartment project which comprises 430 apartments, a 800-room hotel, conference and banquet halls and meeting rooms, 24-floor office tower and a 4,000 square-foot mall. “The objective of the project is to create a location to host mega regional conferences and weddings from India as there is limited space for ballroom parties in Colombo,” Balendra said.

With regard to the business climate in the country he said foreign direct investments and local investments are vital to drive economic growth. We should continue to encourage new investments with consistent policies.

“We will continue to invest and be optimistic of the potential of the country,” Balendra said.

JKH is the largest listed conglomerate in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and its subsidiary, John Keells Stock Brokers (JKSB) is one of the 15 founding members of the CSE with a history dating back to 1896.

With its beginnings as a produce and exchange broker in 1870, the Group diversified into many sectors such as hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, providing marine fuel and logistics services. IT solutions, manufacture of food and beverages, supermarkets, tea and stock broking, banking and real estate.