In an exclusive interview with Mr. Nalin Amarasena, CEO of Ritz Clothing Group, we delve into the inspiring journey of the Group, from its inception in 2012 to becoming a global player in the apparel industry.
Ritz Clothing’s roots trace back to 2012 when it established its first plant in Nikaweratiya, with just 60 machine operators. Mr. Nalin reflects on the early days and reveals the pivotal role played by Mr. Chandrasena Kodikara – Chairman of Ritz Clothing Group, a close associate of Hon. President Ranasinghe Premadasa, in supporting the project to establish 200 garment factories in Sri Lanka.
Hiccups in the 200 Garment Project and Ritz Clothing’s Resilience:
The narrative takes a turn as TriStar, a significant contributor to the 200 garment projects, faced challenges leading to shutdowns. Mr. Chandrasena Kodikara acquired factories which were in the verge of winding up and it became a part of Ritz’s commitment to continue the legacy envisioned by Hon President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Mr. Nalin shares the company’s dedication to contributing to the community, especially in areas where they operate.
Community-Centric Approach and Ethical Operations:
Addressing concerns about industrial zones, Mr. Nalin emphasizes Ritz Clothing’s deliberate choice to set up factories in non-industrial zones, focusing on villages and communities. The company’s approach includes actively recruiting from the local community, providing employment opportunities, and engaging in various CSR projects to uplift the community.
The COVID Challenge and Growth Journey:
Amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ritz Clothing embarked on a remarkable initiative and is now poised for expansion. With six factories, over 4,500 direct and indirect employees, and a monthly production capacity of more than 3.5 million pieces, the company caters to major markets such as the UK, USA, and Europe. Mr. Nalin sheds light on the company’s resilience and adaptability during these testing times.
Continuous Investment in Sri Lanka:
The interview unfolds the company’s strategic vision for expansion. The Group renovated and expanded the plant in Yapahuwa, in 2021 to accommodate 800 machines, with an investment of US Dollars 6.5 million. Further, the plant in Nikaweratiya was also expanded and renovated with an investment of US Dollars 4.5 million, in November 2023 to house 550 machines. Mr. Nalin mentioned the management’s intention to build a new state-of-the-art apparel manufacturing factory to accommodate 1,000 machines this year. He also stated that the management plans to create a sizable enterprise within the country before expanding overseas.
Championing Sri Lanka’s Competitiveness:
Addressing concerns about the brain drain and global giants moving out of Sri Lanka, Mr. Nalin outlines Ritz Clothing’s competitive edge. The company adopts a lean structure, invests in cutting-edge technology, and focuses on automation to enhance global competitiveness. Ritz aims to be a front-runner in capturing business diversification from countries like Bangladesh, China and India.
Innovative Strategies for Employee Retention:
In response to the challenge of retaining skilled staff in a competitive landscape, Mr. Nalin underscores Ritz Clothing’s commitment to paying above-market rates. The company also invests heavily in new technology and automation, fostering an environment that encourages growth and innovation.
The interview concludes with a glimpse into Ritz Clothing’s plans. The company is not just stopping at garment production; it envisions venturing into printing, embroidery, corrugated carton manufacturing, and fabric production. Mr. Nalin hints at a grand vision to become a vertical manufacturer, emphasizing Ritz Clothing’s commitment to innovation and growth.
Ritz Clothing’s story is one of resilience, community engagement, and forward-thinking strategies that position it as a beacon of success in the global garment industry.