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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

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Easy payment schemes not viable for Singhagiri

Young Entrepreneurs

Running a family business is generally considered a difficult job to that of a sole proprietorship. For Mano, this has not been the case but a huge support. His sister, brother and wife too are involved in developing the business to todayís state after his fatherís demise in 2006. He has found success in his business together with his loved ones.

Singhagiri (Pvt) Ltd Managing Director Mano Marasinghe is featured in this weekís Young Entrepreneur column. Excerpts of the interview:

Q: How did you come up with your enterprise?

A: My father Sugathadasa Marasinghe who was a businessman cum film producer in the sixties started the company. He had been working in the Bank of Ceylon and after two years he entered the business arena fifty years back by starting a bakery. Then he started a small electrical item selling point similar to that of a Philips agency and after two years he became a top dealer in Sri Lanka.


Singhagiri Managing Director, Mano Marasinghe

Later he started selling out a Japanese electronics brand. It is only after ten years that he started selling Samsung and he was the first agent to introduce the Samsung brand to Sri Lanka. We started doing business in Lunuwila, my fatherís home town.

Q: As a young entrepreneur what are the challenges you face?

A: The bank interest for loans was a challenge to entrepreneurs earlier. Since the bank interest rates have come down, we anticipate it to comedown further to a single digit.

There is a highly competitive market for electronic items in Sri Lanka. But our strategy is not to compete with them.

The economic recession has had a huge impact on us and we have curtailed our employment base to 75 from 250 employees.

Q: What are the strengths of the company?

A: The duty free shop at the Bandaranaike International Airport is our main strength. Seventy percent of the sales are from the Duty Free shop while the rest is from wholesale and retail channels. We have 12 outlets in the country. We will not be going for easy payment schemes like others do. We will be giving easy payment schemes only for credit cardholders.

Q: As a young entrepreneur how do you manage your enterprise?

A: I always try to provide a quality service to the customer. We are still renowned for giving the best after sales service. We are in the process of improving our business steadily. We have two after sales service centres in Lunuwila and Colombo.

Q: How did you supply with capital initially?

A: My grandfather supported my father financially to start the business. My grandfather has advised and given him Rs 10,000 to make a start. Since my father was working for Bank of Ceylon he had some money in hand.

Q: What are the strategies you adopt to enhance the employees efficiency?

A: The employees working with me are the trained people and they are the spirit of the company. Their knowledge is highly appreciated in reaching to the top in business.

They work as a team and we have seen a lot of improvement in the company as well as in them.

Q: What is your goal in business?

A: We expect to improve business steadily while being a good competitor in the market. We donít believe in rapid improvement. It is better to move on at a slow pace.

Q: What are your future plans?

A: We have introduced another brand from Middle East which is called Aftron to the market. We are not promoting this brand since Samsung has a strong footing in the market. We have already started catering to the North and East areas through our dealer channels. The market in those areas is booming fast creating more market opportunities for the industry.

Q: What was the growth you had for this financial year?

A: Our financial year ends in March but we have already completed the target for this year. We expect to surpass the target by the end of this financial year.

Q: Why have you not adopted easy payment schemes?

A: We have been doing easy payment through Singhagiri Finance Limited earlier. We realized that it earns fewer profits which ultimately led us to cash blocks. There should be a huge capital for doing easy payments for electronic items.

Q: What is the support you expect from the Government?

A: We expect the Government to reduce interest rates, so that we will be able to expand our outlets and to give benefits to the customers.

There has been a lot of tax reductions given by the Government compared to the past.

Q: What is the support you get from the family?

A: There is good support from my family and actually the family involvement in the business is what has taken the business so far. My wife too works in the company. My brother-in-law too helps in developing the business.

Q: What are the challenges involved in a family business?

A: We have not found any challenges as such yet. My sister and I discuss on the future plans of the company. We take each otherís approval in taking decisions on important matters. So there are no issues involved in our family business. We have been inter-depending on each other in decision-making and the regular business. And there is always a trust between us so it makes easy to work. There is security in running family business rather than having outside partners.

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