Sri Lankan Retail is taking a lead in driving sustainability and aligning their strategies with the values of their consumers. The Sri Lanka Retailers Association (SLRA) in collaboration with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) recently carried out an informative webinar to discuss how the FMCG and Consumer durable sectors have integrated sustainability into their business strategy as well as how COVID-19 has significantly changed consumer behavior.
Retail plays a pivotal role in the economy, with Wholesale and Retail Trade recording a contribution of 11% of total GDP and the industry involves multiple stakeholders including the public, employees, supply chains and environment.
Four industry veterans, Charitha Subasinghe – CEO JayKay Marketing (Pvt) Ltd., Mrs. Lilanthi Herath – CEO Laugfs Supermarkets (Pvt) Ltd., Mahesh Wijewardena – CEO Singer Sri Lanka PLC and Mohamed Rizvi – CEO Softlogic Retail (Pvt) Ltd. shared their expertise in sustainable retailing in the perspective of business Continuity, responsibility to environment, employees and supply chain and sharing their experience in managing and emerging from the disruption caused by the pandemic.
The session was moderated by Shiran Fernando – Chief Economist of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
Charitha Subasinghe – CEO JayKay Marketing (Pvt) Ltd. stated, “Retailers must relook at their business models to create a business structure and create an agile culture. We are now in the 4th industrial revolution pushed by data analytics and technology, therefore retailers must start using these tools to build sustainable business models”.
Mahesh Wijewardena – CEO Singer Sri Lanka PLC commented, “Retailers continue to adopt to changes, in various forms: product offerings, experience, service etc. Have responsibility towards the environment, energy efficient products, wastage management, packaging, end producer responsibility. Responsibility towards people is key where good working conditions, job security is assured. The COVID-19 impact, tested all of us to the maximum, and retailers who were agile and fast to adapt were the ones who succeeded”.
Mrs. Lilanthi Herath – CEO Laugfs Supermarkets (Pvt) Ltd said, “Social and environmental responsibility within forward and backward integration play a pivotal role in building brand equity. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable goods. Longer term focus must be given towards multiple stakeholder engagement and integration right across the retail industry. Each brand must be differentiated in the long term and consumers must be encouraged to reuse-recycle and repair”.
Mohamed Rizvi – CEO Softlogic Retail (Pvt) Ltd added, “Doing more with less and becoming a catalyst for innovation and sustainability must be routed in the core of the business strategy. The electronic industry must look at sustainability in terms of energy efficiency and saving electricity, strong internal processes and streamlined delivery strategies where supply chains. Consumers lean towards buying products with a purpose and are willing to buy products which are environment friendly”.
The recording of this webinar can be viewed via The Chamber Academy Youtube page.
SLRA’s membership currently comprises 40+ local retail giants across 9 retail sectors consisting of FMCG; Clothing, Fashion & Jewelry; Shelter & Housing; Household & Consumer Durables; Footwear & Accessories; E-Commerce; Mobility; Entertainment, Restaurants & QSR; and Healthcare & Wellness, with hopes of seeing its membership increase further this year.
The purpose of this organized body for retail is to tap into one of Sri Lanka’s highest contributing industries to economic and social development, by providing a forum where retailers can work together to improve standards of retailing in an inclusive manner, improve consumer experience and service in all facets of retailing, and aim to facilitate the growth of the retail industry through innovation and sharing of global best practices.