'Environment good for future business':
Digital bathrooms a reality soon
In the recent past the bathroom has taken an important place in the
house. At times it is considered more important than the kitchen or any
Advanced technology has given this important place to bathrooms. This
was not so in the past. However, people will enjoy the comfort of
totally digital bathrooms before long, according to the Manager,
Business Development, Charter House International (Pvt) Ltd. Ranil
Samarawickrama who realized the potential in this area as a young
His company is a highly diversified conglomerate in business
activities involved in the marketing, sale and distribution of
prestigious products from leading international manufacturers. His
modern showroom at Havelock Place, Colombo inspires visitors to explore
the latest technologies.
Samarawickrama was interviewed by Daily News Business.
An old boy of Stafford International College, Colombo 7
Samarawickrama was sent to UK for higher studies by his father at the
age of 17.
He obtained his first degree in Management and two Masters degrees in
Security and Diplomatic Studies, and International Relations.
Thereafter, he had got the opportunity of doing an internship with the
United Nations in New York and secured an MBA. With wide experience and
knowledge he returned to Sri Lanka to join the business with his father.
"It was my father who started this business in 1991 with some of his
friends. Although he was a musician by profession he had realized the
potential in this field many years ago. He imported high quality
industrial equipment and modern bathroom solutions from North America
and Europe. The first office was opened at Majestic City in Colombo.
This was a result of a growing vision to offer consumers a choice and
promote a range of high quality products in Sri Lanka where such a need
was increasingly prevalent, he said.
Today Charter House is strategically positioned and reckoned as a
leader in the products and services it offers. It had a remarkable
growth, as a result of their flexible business model and dedicated
staff, he said.
"When I returned to Sri Lanka many people inquired as to why I came
with all my educational qualifications in different fields? My reply was
that everyone is leaving but I returned knowing the potential. In five
years time Sri Lanka will be the place to live.
The war has come to an end and the country is stable and with the
increasing importance of Asia the environment will be very good for
business in the near future. Sri Lanka has all the fundamentals to
become a great destination for investment, trade and a fantastic place
for vacation, he said.
Asked about the barriers he faced at the beginning on his return to
Sri Lanka, he said, "It seems that in Sri Lanka it is easier for someone
to do business with underhand tactics than for someone who wants to run
an honest business which in turn cost the country money. Though I say
Sri Lanka is one of the best places to do business it is not the best
A lot more needs to be done to improve the climate for healthy
business. There needs to be more transparency and more accountability.
The level of corruption needs to be tackled and the system needs to be
encouraged and good practices should be facilitated for business, he
Although sales have dropped slightly as a result of inflation, the
company is doing well and there were no job losses. In fact the strategy
has been to be aggressive and strengthen the team with the addition of a
few highly skilled staff. The company employs 45 people and it owns 80
percent of the premium solutions segment.
A sales person explains the features
of the bathroom fittings to a client
We sell only quality products with the best service possible. We give
a 15-year warranty on our products and we have a service centre for our
goods. We have set up a fully equipped workshop manned by trained
personnel to provide technical services for the equipment sold by us, he
In the near future, Charter House will launch some innovative and
exciting products including taps and showers which save up to 50 percent
water and they will be moving to digital taps.
Charter House has over 60 dealers islandwide apart from the showroom
in Colombo. Havelock City which is the largest housing project up to now
was supplied bathware by Charter House Internationale. Kandalama Hotel
is also one of their prominent clients.
The company undertakes design and turnkey projects especially for
petroleum, power generation, water supply and plumbing fields and also
provides infrastructure development solutions in partnership with
prestigious companies throughout the world.
Asked about his future plans, he summed up in three words - "Growth,
Service and Training." "I am not satisfied with what we are.
We have a great foundation and have the ability to offer our
customers a wider product portfolio. I am also a strong believer in
customer service. Our products are problem-free. However, I believe it
is our duty to contact the customer and maintain a relationship with
Training is also a key element. We have been using the economic slow
down to become stronger. Hence we have invested much on training and
development, Samarawickrama said.
The secret behind his success is having a vision, a dedicated
workforce and the relationships they have built over the years with
customers, professionals, architects, contractors and developers, he