Sunday, October 17, 2010
Aitken Spence investing $ 5 million on new press
Aitken Spence Deputy Chairman/MD Rajan Brito said yesterday that two six-colour printing machines are being purchased and they expected the new press to be operational by this time next year when the company re-locates from Bloemendhal Road to its new premises at Mawaramandiya where it owns four acres of land.
Aitken Spence Chairman Harry Jayawardena announced that the company was getting a new press when he spoke at the 55th anniversary celebrations of Aitken Spence Printing at the parent’s Vauxhall Street headquarters last Thursday.
He said that they had gone through hard times, being subject to floods, labour disputes and many other problems that had kept the company down despite its long period of existence.
"But we are now getting a new state-of-the-art press that can make us not just the best printer in the country but also best in the region," he told invitees including employees, suppliers, customers and other guests at a celebratory party.
Jayawardena indicated that the company will be focusing on export printing but will have capacity for quality local work as well. Its present portfolio includes coffee table books and corporate publications, a spokesman said.
Aitken Spence’s printing business began 55 years ago largely to cater to its in-house stationery and other printing needs but had grown over the years to become a formidable export printer servicing clients including Marks & Spencer and other well known names.
"We began at a time when a pepper steak cost Rs.7 at the Mascarilla and a coleslaw cost just Rs.2 at the Little Hut," the compere at Thursday’s event told guests. "A Hungarian goulash could be had at the Triton for Rs.70. That’s the kind of change between then and now."
Jayawardena said that 30 years had been lost due to the war but now there were opportunities that were presenting themselves that must be seized.
He related an incident when he was not in the Aitken Spence’s management but had dealings with the printing department and had been approached to `bump’ a bill indicating corruption inside the company.
"The person responsible has since been asked to resign and had left the company," Jayawardena said.
He said that despite paying high salaries, overtime, etc, they had remained competitive. He had visited a small press elsewhere and seen now the owners had modernized using the currently available technology.
There is every possibility for Aitken Spence Printing too to do excellently with the new press and equipment that will be shortly commissioned, Jayawardena said.
Brito said that the Mawaramandiya property had been acquired four years ago but they had problems regarding building there which have now been sorted out. Fortunately they did not dispose of that property in the context of those problems.
Relocation from Bloemendhal where they had to face problems like flooding would be a great advantage.
He saw opportunities for a press like theirs with state-of-the-art equipment to do well in the context of demand especially for export printing.
"There is a lot of business to be picked up," he said. "It’s a form of off-shoring."
Mr. Prasanna Karunatilake, after a 17-year career at Printcare, took over as Managing Director of Aitken Spence Printing last June.
A representative of their British principal, Wilkin Spence, flew to Colombo to attend the anniversary celebration last week.
source - www.island.lk