Kulatunga Rajapaksa is the Group Managing Director of DSI Samson Group (Pvt) Ltd, possessing over fifty years of experience in the footwear industry.He holds B.Sc ( Honours ) from University of Peradeniya and served on several universities as a council member.
Rajapaksa is a past president of National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka and also was a past president of the Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products & currently he is an Executive Committee member. The Sri Lanka Footwear Association has also been led by him as president.
At the recent National Business Excellence Awards, the DSI Samson Group (Pvt) Ltd received three Silver awards in the categories of footwear, rubber products and roofing tiles. The three Business Excellence Awards, given taking i nto consideration a plethora of requirements such as compliance and CSR activities of a company, stand as a testament that the Group’s success is not exclusively limited to their footwear range.Following is an excerpt from an interview conducted by Daily Mirror. How is DSI perceived by the public?Best known for its footwear, the DSI Samson Group is the market leader in footwear in the country.
With over 200 showrooms (servicing 4000 dealer points island wide), DSI footwear boasts the largest retail trading network in footwear.The company additionally offers a variety of strong local brands with the renowned international life style and performance brands such as Reebok, Puma, Clerks, Fila, Disney Warner brothers, Marvel etc. It is a testament to the success DSI has had in the footwear industry that the public immediately associates the brand with footwear. The DSI Samson Group has diversified from footwear to other industries. What kind of diversification has taken place within the Group?
Excluding the footwear industry, the Group is similarly acknowledged as a pioneer manufacturer of bicycle tyres and tubes. The company has established their mark in the international market as well with over 50 percent of the tyres and tubes being exported.
The DSI Samson Group is also the only company in the country currently producing natural roofing tiles, which is in high demand in the construction sector. In addition to selling the times within the country, DSI also exports them to the United Kingdom.
DSI Samson Group also bears the mantle of being the pioneer in recycling used rubber tyres. The Group has established a factory solely for the task of reclaiming and recycling rubber products. The rubber component is extracted and exported.
This venture, while ensuring that discarded rubber tyres would not become breeding grounds for misquotes, has also i mmensely contributed to the solid tyre industry. The company further stated that due to used rubber tyres becoming unavailable in the country as a result, the factory is now importing used tyres from overseas for recycling.
DSI tyres, due to their high quality, have become widely recognized in both the local and international markets. This popularity has led to the company being approached by Raleigh Bicycles with a request to manufacture bicycles. The manufactured bicycles are also exported to the UK.Additionally, the Group has ventured into the energy market as well and is currently carrying out two mini-hydro projects.
Furthermore two trading companiesone dedicated to computer hardware and acting as the agents of Dell and the other offering hardware products and chemicals, have been added to the Group. Venturing into the agriculture sector, DSI owns a farm which produces mangoes, vegetables and other fruits.
The company has recently begun manufacturing and selling socks under the DSI brand, whereas previously, the company merely purchased and re-sold socks at their showrooms. In addition the company has ventured into the PVC pipe industry and has begun manufacturing PVC under the brand Samson PVC. Furthermore, the company has begun manufacturing disposable yoghurt cups. Tell us about the company’s workforce.
The Group has an employment base of 8000 direct employees and about 30 000 indirect employees.The Group of Companies also provides employment for retired employees through a subcontractor scheme.As a result many footwear components are produced outside through the subcontractor basis and only the end product is assembled within the factory. What are the future plans for the Group?
The DSI Samson Group plans to take the brand globally in the future. To this end, we have opened companies in India, Australia and the United Kingdoms. The company stated that the integration into the Indian market head been successful and that the brand is accepted by the Indian consumers. However as the market in each country differs from the other, the company is currently going through a delicate process to establish their own brand in the other markets. The DSI brand is also very active in the CSR arena. What projects undertaken benefit the country largely?
Acting beyond corporate means, the company also sponsors school volleyball-the national game in Sri Lanka- for t he last 15 years, t he ‘Danumai Vasanawai’ educational program for children and numerous CSR projects.
One of the prominent projects is the programme highlighting a remote Rajamaha Viharaya in the country every Poya day. This programme, which has been broadcasted nearly 20 years helps these Viharayas gain recognition and draws in visitors. The company has also provided support to the construction of the Rambodagalla statue.
The DSI Samson Group, with over 50 years of experience is evolving itself to offer a vast range of products and services to the market. The Managing Director of the company stated that the success of the company is the result of the hard work, dedication and team work of the employees. The Board’s vision is to contribute more extensively to the economy of the country, people, society and values as a truly Sri Lankan company