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Lassana Flora, market leader in wedding segment of country

Flowers have played an important part in folk festivals, religious ceremonies and public celebrations since the earliest days of civilization. Humans have used floral decorations, using of living or dried cut-plant materials or artificial facsimiles, to embellish their environment and persons and of course, courtships.

Dr. Lasantha Malavige, Chairman, Lassana Flora
Pic By Ruwan De Silva

Lassana Flora, one of Sri Lanka’s loved floral designer is geared to revolutionize the entire paradigm of the local floral industry with its expertise and high level of professionalism.

In an interview with Daily News Business Lassana Flora Chairman and Managing Director Dr Lasantha Malavige talks about himself and future outlook for the local floral industry. He is also the Secretary of the Medical Association of Sri Lanka.

Excerpt of the interview

Q: What is the whole concept behind Lassana Flora?

A: It was always my dream to create innovative and elegant designs, which are truly artistic.So,I put my inspiration into action and Lassana Flora (Pvt.) Ltd. started with a new vision in the industry in 1998.

At that time, the industry was in a very primitive stage of doing businesses and flower arrangements and even decorations were done in an unorganized manner. I saw the opportunity and started Lassana Florabusiness in Sri Lanka.

Q: How does Lassana Flora make a mark in the floral industry in Sri Lanka? How do you retain your customers in the face of competition?

There are a number of facts that Lassana Flora differentiate from other respective firms, florists in the country. Dedication, expertise, professionalism are the main pillars behind the whole success story of us. We as a reputed company, every aspect of the business from growing, preserving and delivering of flowers to floral designing, customer services are well handled by a highly experienced and trained managerial staff.

Main concern of the Lassana Flora is quality;we are careful of every aspect of the business. As far as industry is concerned, Sri Lankans are not service oriented and don’t take service as an important thing. I think accepting poor quality is something that comes with our culture and many things to be done to improve the quality of services. The ultimate goal of Lassana Flora is to benchmark ourselves in the service delivery segment of the country ,which I believe is a formidable and challenging task.

Q: How has 2012 been so far for your company?

A: We see a growth in terms of sales in the first six months this year and the growth can be attributed to Lassana Flora’s recent corporate re-branding process. It is important to note that people will tend to purchase or use more flowers for various events when the economy, per capita income of the country increasing,If we move on to tourism industry, Sri Lanka is in the midst of post war tourism boom and Sri Lanka has become one of the preferred investment destinations for well know international hotels brands.

These new investments in the local leisure sector will definitely create more opportunities for us to provide floral arrangements for up coming local hotels and resorts as well. However, the seasonal nature of the wedding industry has been a major issue. We have not been able to increase the capacity as a result of this. This scenario could be one of the reasons for relatively higher prices for wedding arrangements in Sri Lanka.

Q: Your views on the floral industry, what more suggestions do you have for the betterment of the industry?

A: Thought the growing and exporting flowers for floral industry is considered to be a profitable business, we are still struggling to find proper cultivatable lands for floricultural projects in Sri Lanka. To address the issue,the government can assist in leasing out non utilized lands for floricultural projects. Another aspect is poor attention to copyright laws in the country. Today Lassana Flora is staffed by well experienced designers, florists and management professionals. Our full time designers often come up with new ideas and concepts particularly with weddings and event decorations. However the worst scenario is that anyone can steal the original concept or duplicate the high quality products we offer. Overall standard of the industry will come down once the original designs are done in an in appropriate way by imitating firms. Today, Lassana Flora has grown in sales, clientele and market share and is the market leader in the wedding segment of the country. Lassana Flora has grown to become the No one Bridal shop in Sri Lanka providing its clientele with total wedding and floral solutions and we are the first ISO certified florist company in South Asia.

The flowers and gift delivery business and on line division where people can send flowers and other related gifts online and wholesale division for supplying flowers for hotels and other small ventures play a major role in improving sales targets of the company. It has achieved 40 % growth in the five star hotel wedding segment while the growth in flowers and gifts delivery for corporate events is lower than the wedding segment.

Q: What is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) angle of Lassana Flora and your commitment to enhance the quality and productivity of the floral suppliers?

A: We believe in developing sustainable societies and communities thereby empowering the local community where we operate in. Today over 100 outgrowers are involved with Lassana Flora supplying flowers and foliage. CSR is a very important aspect in LassnaFlora business and I believe helping people is something in our blood. The one important thing we do as a company is that we do refrain from importing flowers thereby promoting local flowers right throughout. We have taken a personal goal to develop large set of out growers by supporting them in a big way. Limitation for them is the lack of plantation materials, and we have imported planting material and distributed those planting materials to out growers. In a bid to make a responsible commitment to the well-being of the environment, Lassana Flora has implemented various initiatives to minimize the wastage of flowers and foliage during the transportation by introducing a good packaging system as well as a transport system. Developing the out grower system is the main CSR initiative of the company and Lassana Flora supports them with financial, technical assistance thereby giving them the understanding and training about the market. We help them to understand the importance of the quality of the product as well as upgrade them from small growers to bigger growers.

Q:Any investments in pipeline?

A: Lassana Flora has expanded its footprints in leading cities with branches in Nawala,Galle Face hotel, Moratuwa, Negombo, Kandy City Centre and Kandy Station Road . We have our own nursery in Bellihuloya and a large operational unit with a cold room complex in Homagama area where all the work is being done at this facility. We are currently concentrating on consolidating business in the existing geographical areas. However with the opening up of the Southern Highway, we have identified Galle as a proffered city to do floral business where Lassana Flora sees an increase in demand for flower arrangements for various events.

We do a lot of events in former liberated areas in the Northern and Eastern parts of the island where there is a growing demands for flower arrangements. As far as Lassana Flora is concerned, there is no such immediate plan for us to set up a branch in the Northern area.

Lassana Flora is about to start the work of second phase of the stores complex in Homagama where company plans to have a bigger cool room complex while increasing the internal capacity of the work area.

The project to be completed by mid next year, will enable us to handle more weddings and corporate events in Sri Lanka. In the meantime, we will heavily invest on Bellihuloya nursery project as well. Recently Lassana Flora started Sri Lanka’s first ever flower collection centre in Nuwara-eliya. Currently the company has provided employments for 110 people and we might increase this to about another by 50 within an year.

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[Fact file]

Undergraduate and Post graduate education

MB BS (1994-1999) University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Professional Linguistics Assessment Board (PLAB) (2005) General Medical Council, UK

Diploma in Psychosexual Medicine (2005-2007) Institute of Psychosexual Medicine, London

Specialist training (2007-2009) European Academy of Sexual Medicine, London

PhD (2004-2009) A split PhD from University of Sri Jayewardenepura and University of Oxford.

[Current Appointments]

Hon Secretary, Sri Lanka Medical Association

Part time Clinical Research Fellow and Visiting Academic – from October 2009 Oxford Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, UK

Specialist in Psychosexual Medicine- From June 2010, Asiri Surgical Hospital

Senior Research Fellow –From June 2010,Genetech Research Institute

 

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