Accordingly, the Chairperson Rohini Nanayakkara in her annual review pointed out that whilst the Brows group had aggressively ventured into new business areas through its strategic investment vehicle – Browns Investments Limited (BIL), Browns hopes to diversify into healthcare at a provincial level, and venture into property development, taking advantage of several key commercial properties that the company already holds.
“There are also several avenues for us to maximize the potential of our existing ventures through value added services, such as hydropower, hotels, specialty teas, and more.” Nanayakkara noted.
Meanwhile, Murali Prakash, Group Managing Director of Browns also noted that Sri Lanka has a rapidly ageing population and the demand for healthcare services is expected to rise.
“As such, Browns is exploring opportunities in the healthcare sector.” Prakash says adding that another area of focus will be the leisure industry, through its investments in LOLC Leisure, as well as plans to build its own hotel or resort which is already in cards through Browns Investments Ltd under its plan to build a star class resort at Kosgoda.
“The third area is power generation through the setting up of mini-hydro plants in the sugar, tea and rubber estates that Browns has invested to date.” Praksh noted in his review adding that together with the company’s generator and battery divisions, Browns is firmly established in the energy sector.
Prakash also outlined that another area of significant opportunity is the real estate sector that is seeing a growth momentum in the post-war.
“Browns group has a relatively large land bank in prime locations in the city and suburbs. Development being considered for these lands varies from business hotels to mixed development projects and housing,” he pointed out.
He added that in the short to medium term, the company will utilize its existing assets including its land bank more efficiently, while also improving the physical working environment.
“In line with this, the head office is to be shifted to a leased premises soon. All factories and distribution will be relocated to Pannala, providing much needed economies of scale in administration and expense management while also ensuring smoother operations.” Prakash outlined adding the Company’s main service center is to be relocated in Orugodawatte, which will also assist in achieving synergies and cost-efficiencies across the Group.
Over the past few years, including the year under review, Browns has made several investments through this company in areas including plantations (Free Lanka Capital Holdings), leisure (LOLC Leisure), construction (Sierra Group), fertiliser (Agstar Fertiliser), and porcelain (Royal Fernwood Porcelain). Some of these investments include a 9.55% stake in Seylan bank, a 30% stake in LOLC leisure to control and manage the Confifi group of hotels, an investment in Sierra Constructions, Sierra Holdings and Sierra Cables, and in Agstar fertilizer.
Subsequently, Chairperson Rohini Nanayakkara pointed out that in doing so, the company took advantage of the close relationship it has with partners such as the LOLC Group.
“While some of these investments are passive, Browns will take an active management interest in others, such as plantations and Royal Fernwood Porcelain” she said highlighting one of Browns’ other important investments interest is in Galoya Plantations that operates and manages the Hingurana sugar factory, together with a core land area that it cultivates through an out-grower network of farmers.
“I am pleased to note that the revival of this business – a Greenfield operation for us - has gathered pace, and we hope to commence factory operations in the next financial year” Nanayakkara outlined adding the project also underscores the commitment of Browns to support and further develop the agriculture sector of the country.
Browns is currently the market leader in seven segments in addition to the above two, which are: marine engines 55%, branded power tools 45%, radiators 42%, veterinary pharmaceuticals 29%, two wheel tractors 39% and integrated business solutions 30%. All these segments had recorded double digit growth, while other segments such as power systems, hardware and consumer durables also posted double digit growth, according to financials of the company.