SMR - a Sri Lankan success story | Sunday Observer

SMR - a Sri Lankan success story

8 January, 2023

Head of Strategic Business Development at SMR, Dimantha Nanayakkara outlines the company’s growth journey

Q: Tell us about your growth story

A: SMR began its journey over six decades ago as Sena Mills; a small coconut oil mill. Today, we’ve grown and expanded into a respected manufacturer, refiner and exporter of edible oils.

Since inception, we’ve been driven by our commitment to quality, and have been proactive in identifying consumer needs and fulfilling them through a strategy of “right product at the right time.”

Our growth was also fuelled by looking beyond our shores to diverse export markets; today, we export to over 35 countries. This has helped us become a net foreign exchange earner as well, supporting Sri Lanka and growing our own business simultaneously.

Q: What challenges did you face on your growth journey?

A: Building and maintaining trust and relationships, which drive this industry, is an ongoing challenge. We have overcome this pivotal challenge through our commitment to quality and consistency in terms of product and delivery.

Sourcing talent and quality raw materials is another significant challenge, especially as we have grown. Therefore, we place emphasis on investing in our people and grower communities, including knowledge-sharing social initiatives.

Q: What is the local market demand for your products?

A: Demand is strong, locally, though it was subdued by the pandemic and economic crisis. However, with a recovery now on the horizon, we’re seeing demand return and even expand, and the quality and trust we have built amongst consumers will help us to take advantage of emerging opportunities, both domestically and globally.

Q: What is most important for success in export markets?

A: Quality is king for exports. Our products are recognised across 35 countries in six continents for quality. We’ve implemented globally recognised quality standards and processes at our production facilities to ensure exceptional excellence; including FSSC 22000, BRC, USDA, SEDEX, SMETA, FAIRTRADE and others. Our unrelenting commitment to quality is the driver of our success. In fact, in many export markets, our products are considered No. 1.

Q: How do you appeal to customers?

A: By ensuring consistent quality, always. In fact, our commitment to quality can be directly attributed to sustainable business growth and exceptional customer satisfaction levels.

Q: How does your business benefit Sri Lankans?

A: As a community-focused, people-centric and sustainable business, we create value for Sri Lankans in many ways, apart from high quality products. As an exporter, we are a net earner of foreign exchange. As a locally-owned and grown business, we create value for our communities; we presently directly employ almost 1,000 people and create indirect economic opportunities for over 5,000 people, and 6,000 rural families thrive because of us. We’re also helping to create a positive image for brand Sri Lanka, through our products in global markets.

Q: How has Covid-19 affected your business?

A: As a business driven by agriculture and manufacturing, we have extensive crisis management mechanisms in place. Therefore, while challenging, we competently navigated the pandemic and the present crises. I credit our team spirit for this success. We’ve also used these crises as learning opportunities to further strengthen our crisis management mechanisms and increase resilience and reflexivity across our business processes.

Q: What’s your long-term outlook?

A: We are a sustainable, eco-friendly and socially responsible business. Over the past six decades, we have grown from a small mill into a respected organisation with a global presence, winning awards such as the National Chamber of Commerce Export Award.

Therefore, our success throughout our journey has been exceptional. With a future-facing, responsible culture and world-class manufacturing and business processes in place, we believe that our business is sustainable, and will continue to create value for all stakeholders, over the long term.