With a history dating back almost half a century, and formally known as Textured Jersey, Teejay’s British roots and innovative approach have given it a strong standing in the global textile industry. In 2004, a change of hands saw Teejay usher in a new era of growth in Sri Lanka, where it is today renowned for its superior quality knit fabrics.
Sri Lanka’s bustling manufacturing and export-driven approach has spurred rapid growth and economic development, making it the ideal setting for the company’s advanced and dynamic manufacturing facility, located just outside of the country’s capital Colombo. Backed by industry leaders and major shareholders Brandix Lanka and Pacific Textiles, Teejay has evolved with research and development, manufacturing and apparel supply chain expertise.
In 2015, Textured Jersey Lanka (now Teejay Lanka) acquired Ocean India (now Teejay India) and Quenby Lanka Prints (now Teejay Lanka Prints), consolidating its strategic regional presence and rebranding the newer, stronger company as Teejay.
Shrihan Perera was named CEO of Teejay Group in May 2018. With a decade of experience in the apparel industry, Shrihan started his career at Al Mulla Group in Kuwait followed by a 13-year tenure at Unilever Sri Lanka, before joining Brandix Apparel Solutions as CEO of its Intimate Apparel Division in 2010.
“I’ve been working closely with Teejay for many years, so this exposure has made the transition almost seamless. My experience working in a multinational company has helped me guide this team into the next phase of growth, and we’ve invested significantly in people development. Through succession plans and leadership development, we are preparing our people to become the future leaders of the company,” he says.
“Through succession plans and leadership development, we are preparing our people to become the future leaders of the company.”
“The contributions of two of our deputy CEOs, Pubudu De Silva and Rodney Arland, in their long journey with Teejay, is a great support and strength to me in driving the organisation towards operational excellence, in operations and human resources, to sales excellence supply chain management.”
Pillars of excellence
Teejay Lanka’s aspiration to become the region’s largest world-class knit fabric solutions provider is built on the fundamental pillars of operational excellence, sustainability, quality, on-time delivery, innovation and cost efficacy. Shrihan explains that the company’s journey to bring inspiration and value to its stakeholders can only be successful through ethical and sustainable business practices.
“We’re mindful of the resources we use – we’ve invested in coal power and we’re now discussing a solar investment,” Shrihan says. “Sustainability is key for us, particularly in the modernisation of our plant and the replacement of our machines, so we’re always looking for machines that use less electricity and water. This not only cuts costs but also reduces our carbon footprint. It’s about doing the right thing.”
At the heart of everything, Teejay Lanka believes in developing a deep, customer-centric understanding of global fashion trends and value propositions, while delivering products on time and within the budget. “In the past five years, the business’s annual revenue has grown from US$98 million to almost US$163 million in 2017.
We’re hoping to reach US$190 million revenue this year, between our Indian and Sri Lankan businesses,” Shrihan explains. “We concluded the expansion of our operations in India in 2017, which has doubled our capacity, and we’re expecting a further wave of expansion in the region soon.”
“We concluded the expansion of our operations in India in 2017, which has doubled our capacity, and we’re expecting a further wave of expansion in the region soon.”
Continued investment in technology and an active focus on process improvements and wastage reduction lie at the core of Teejay’s efforts to continually deliver cost efficiency. To drive growth, the business has invested around US$50 million in acquisitions and expansion to date. “We have unique partnerships with both retailers and brands, and deep relationships with selected customers – so they know they are getting our absolute best,” Shrihan explains.
Teejay Lanka has been able to secure the best brands in the global fashion industry and capture niche markets in manufacturing viscose, modal, micro modal and tencel fabrics. “We work with all the large garment manufacturers in Sri Lanka, including Brandix and MAS.”
To drive external growth, Shrihan realises he must first focus on internal growth. “In the past two years, we’ve shifted our investment to focus on our people because we know that there is another expansion coming our way within the next few months,” he notes. “Despite primarily being a cotton manufacturer, we have now engaged experts in synthetics. They are guiding us in our investments in synthetics in Sri Lanka, which will give us the knowledge we need to set up a successful synthetic mill in India later.”
Shrihan says the biggest change he’s witnessed in his 10 years in the apparel industry is the increasing speed with which manufacturers must respond to the demands of retailers. Teejay continues to invest and bring organisational alignment to support this thrust, with the hope of bringing excitement and prosperity to the entire industry.
“Lead times are being slashed every year so retailers can meet the needs of their customers much faster,” Shrihan explains. The CEO says he measures business success by the happiness of his customers and the sustainable, profitable growth of Teejay Lanka. “Agility is a vital component of business,” he says, “and those who can’t respond to customers placing orders at the eleventh hour will fall behind – we have to keep up.”