Situation favourable for apparel industry
*Name: Kumar Dewapura
*School attended: Thurstan College
*Civil status: Married, has two children
* Experience: 30 years experience in the
* Professional qualification: Textiles
technology in Henden
* Sports: Cricket, rugger and Cadeting
The political stability in the country will enable the apparel
industry with much needed manpower in Sri Lanka.
This has been a long felt challenge by many industrialists involved
in apparel industry especially if they were operational in the Northern
and Eastern areas, Tristar Apparel Exports Chairman Kumar Dewapura said.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: How hopeful are you for an industry growth in the future?
A: We had to face many challenges in the industry due to the
political instability and since those challenges have been won by the
Government, we are in a strong position.
This is the best time for industrialists to work together for one
goal forgetting party politics. The situation will be favourable for the
Sri Lankan apparel industry in future.
Q: What are the new technologies you will be adopting to be
operational in the apparel sector?
Tristar Apparel Exports Chairman Kumar Dewapura Picture by
Ashraff A Samad
A: The apparel industry today needs highly advanced
technologies. The process of the apparel industry includes computerised
cutting machines to the multi-functional machines. The industrialists
need finances to invest on the industry for its development.
The Government should support industrialists in the industry now. A
new plant can create 1,000 job opportunities in any part of the country.
Q: What are the worker standards maintained by Tristar
A: Tristar adheres to the highest level of worker standards
and due to that our products are recognised by international buyers such
as Marks and Spencer, Debenhams and Azda. We have gained their
confidence as we maintain high ethical levels.
We have a system to share monthly profits with our employees while
various remuneration packages including attendance bonus, meal
allowances, death donation, medicine and recreation facilities are
shared with the employees.
Q: Can Sri Lanka promote itself as a hub for the apparel
A: Sri Lanka is not advanced to promote itself as a hub for
apparels. Sri Lanka does not have proper standards as the latest
technology is not coming from abroad.
On the other hand Sri Lanka is best known for the needle work and the
stitching quality in the apparel. We have an incomparable educated
labour force with other regional countries. The productivity and the
efficiency of the employees can be improved, as they are capable of
understanding the instructions given to them because of their high
Q: How can the industry contribute to the increase of
individual income of the country?
A: When the employees are productive and efficient,
industrialists can double the employees’ salary. Our employees should
work towards aiming the productivity of Bangladesh. That is the
bottleneck we are facing at the moment.
Q: How can Sri Lanka move forward with challenges such as GSP+
A: I think it depends on how we handle the buyers. We need to
build up confidence with them and compromise on our side. The Government
and industrialists should work together to get GSP+ concession.
Q: What are the options left for Sri Lanka if GSP+ concession
is not given?
A: The apparel industry in Sri Lanka should increase
productivity and efficiency while improving the quality of the final
The Government should support industrialists with funds for machinery
and to face the duty in importing and exporting.
We can face the GSP+ challenge comfortably with the long term
financial facilities given to the industrialists.
It is also important to upgrade technology necessary for apparel
Q: Can Sri Lanka promote footwear and leather products as it
was doing with apparels?
A: I think the footwear and leather products industry can
improve in Sri Lanka if the Government gives necessary financial
Q: Can you expect a growth in the industry?
A: We need to get the Government’s financial support to grow
The entire industry can expect a 10 percent growth in the future.
Q: Do you expect Government incentives or benefits for the
A: The Government must support apparel industrialists. We
enjoy certain facilities such as duty concessions now.
Investments for machinery will be a definite support from the
Government and it will sustain the industry.
The infrastructure facilities such as electricity and water are also
necessary for the industry’s growth.
Q: What are the benefits Sri Lanka enjoy at present after the
quota system was lifted?
A: The trade has been excellent after the lift of quota to
Since then many mushroom factories were closed and only those who
could survive were well-established industrialists.
Sri Lanka is lucky in that sense to manufacture apparel without quota
We even got an order of hundred million pieces due to the lift of the
Q: What is your advice for young people who are eager to climb
the corporate ladder?
A: They should select the subject they know and study it
If one is intended to start a business one has to do a market
research initially and should never borrow money from banks.
They should start their businesses on their own with having
partnerships but should not take loans. If one start business by
borrowing money from banks she should be a beggar forever.
Q: What do you do in your leisure?
A: I visit the factory during my leisure and it gives me
Q: What is the country you like to visit?
A: United Kingdom
Q: What is the place you like to visit in Sri Lanka?
A: I like to visit the countryside to enjoy the natural