Q: Describe JAT’s journey of global expansion.
A: Over the past two decades JAT has embarked on an impressive journey of expansion, establishing itself as a prominent player in the market. Beginning in Bangladesh as a trading operation, today JAT has set up a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, marking the inception of its dynamic growth trajectory.

Through strategic joint ventures, JAT extended its reach to the African region, leaving its mark in countries like the Maldives, Kenya, and Australia. This demonstrates JAT’s commitment to maintaining an ever-evolving global presence.

JAT also diversified its operations in Saudi Arabia by entering into the business of electric vehicle charging, contributing to a fast-growing economy and becoming a contributor to achieving net-zero carbon emissions. JAT’s global expansion is a testament to its relentless pursuit of growth and excellence in every corner of the world it touches.

Q: How is JAT faring under existing macroeconomic conditions?
A: The management was resilient and implemented effective counteractive policies to mitigate the macroeconomic impact in a timely manner, ensuring that the growth trajectory is not only maintained but also significantly accelerated. In the years 2022 and 2023, JAT's profits experienced a remarkable 50% growth compared to the previous trend in the earned profits of the company, marking a significant milestone in the company's history with the highest earnings recorded.

These achievements came amidst high borrowing rates, exchange rate fluctuations and low buying power in the local market. This was made possible due to the relentless efforts of our team.

The group currently operates with an eight percent net margin, a 15 percent gearing ratio, and reports a net asset value of Rs. 17.00. The organisation has consistently declared a dividend of 35-40 percent. All companies within the group contributed to positive bottom lines. Consistent investments in innovation and expansion, combined with productivity improvements, enhancements in quality, and a focus on compliance and governance, have enabled lean cost profiles.

Q: What are JAT’s medium-term priorities, given the prevailing business environment?
A: We have a few projects in the pipeline that are mainly focused on cost reduction, and expansion to the export market. JAT is currently working on setting up two plants in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which are backward integrations. These initiatives have the potential to significantly reduce our costs. The organisation is also actively investing in research and development to introduce lean initiatives and continuous improvements. The focus on these investments to yield continuous benefits will continue over the next two to five years.

Another key area of focus is the export market. The organisation is strategically investing time in establishing plants in Kenya, Australia, and other new markets that will cover the South Asian, African, and European regions. We also intend to achieve sustainable growth in the emulsion market, driven by technological innovations, improvements in application areas, and enhanced performance.

With the 2022/23 financial year cantered on digital transformation, measures are being taken to further strengthen the group’s digital capabilities over the next two years.

Q: How can Sri Lanka improve its ease of doing business and competitiveness on the international stage?
A: Our primary focus should be on maintaining consistent taxation policies that promote international trade, improving access to finance for exports, especially by providing affordable credit to SMEs, enhancing infrastructure, actively participating in trade agreements, and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).

Additionally, we must also concentrate on enhancing the quality of education and vocational training to meet the demands of the modern job market, promoting innovation and R&D and simultaneously strengthening governance while reducing corruption.

Q: What measures have been taken to sustain or grow your company/business in the past 12 months?
A: JAT was farsighted in its planning and ensured that the company was resilient to external shocks. We expanded to foreign territories through our existing overseas based subsidiaries to bolster the export revenue base. Additionally, we invested in a state-of-the-art R&D facility which brought about clear cost benefits to consumers, leading to enhanced market penetration.

All our operations locally and internationally, are monitored in terms of contract execution and closure. Clear guidance is provided to employees and their performance is closely monitored and rewarded. We’ve also guaranteed that JAT secures the best possible contracts with stakeholders, thereby preventing the loss of opportunities. Simultaneously, we invest in training and development, employee welfare, and digitalisation.