Lankan thrives in ham and cheese business in Italy | Daily News

Lankan thrives in ham and cheese business in Italy

His first factory
His first factory

A Sri Lankan entrepreneur in Italy, Sunil Shantha Chandrasiri who started a home grown business to make cheese and ham has now become one of the largest manufactures of cheese and ham in Italy.

Hailing from Piliyandala he had his education at St. Thomas Bandarawela and later at the Sri Jayewardenepura College in Kotte. Being a true patriot he joined the Sri Lanka Army as cadet officer in 1992 and also played rugger for the National Youth Service council. Taking an ‘honorary discharge’ from Army after serving nearly four years he first stepped foot to Italy in 1995 through legal channels.

Having worked in several companies he gained knowledge of business and the languages and saw the areas of opportunities. “I always knew that there was demand for quality food and decided to start up a cheese manufacturing business,” he said connecting to ‘Daily News Business’ via email.

“I started with two employees and came out with the brand name, Ferrarni Cheese and started offering the produce to nearby shops.

The product was well received by the people in my home town Parma and then I extended my product range to super markets.”

The acceptance of ‘Ferrarni Cheese’ by Super markets was a great achievement for me as it was an endorsement of quality. “This gave me confidence to expand and introduce new products as I knew that the market was there.”

“I must recall that I was egged on by my mother, M. Jayawardane who even provided financial assistance for me to expand. During this time I also obtained the ISO 9002 certification from the Italian government for ‘Ferrarni Cheese’ and armed with this I started exports to the region.

“I was looking for a product to go with cheese and then started to make ham under the same brand name and this too was well accepted and was also exported.”

Due to growing demand I invested in two factories and today I have 250 multi ethnic staff. He said as a Sri Lankan he is patriot and is giving preference to Sri Lankans when it comes to providing employment and 180 are Sri Lankans.

“I also pay them EPF and ETF and today my turnover is in excess of Euro 500 million and my exports have extended beyond Europe to USA, UK and also Asia.”

“I have also done a study on starting an operations in Sri Lanka and export to other countries. With the Singapore FTA in place I will re explore this proposal next year.”

Together with his wife, Chamila Ruwani De Silva and three children he is also engaged in a series of CSR activities in Sri Lanka by providing assistance for families and children of “differently abled” Servicemen. These CSR includes even building houses and assisting their children’s education by way of providing regular financial grants.

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