Aitken Spence

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Aitken Spence
Traded as CSESPEN.N0000
Industry Leisure
Transportation & Logistics
Power Generation
Information Technology
Financial Services
Plantation Services
Property Development
Founded 1868
Founder Patrick Gordon Spence
Thomas Clark
Edward Aitken
S.R. Aitken
Headquarters Colombo, Sri Lanka
Area served
Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh,
India, South Africa, Oman, Fiji
Key people
Harry Jayawardena
Rajan Brito
(Deputy Chairman and
Managing Director),
Rohan Fernando (Director),
Parakrama Dissanayake(Director),
Stasshani Jayawardena(Director)
Revenue Decrease US$ 279.9 million (2013/14)
Increase US$ 43.6 million (2013/14)
Increase US$ 34.4 million (2013/14)
Total assets Increase US$ 467.7 million (2013/14)
Total equity Increase US$ 296.6 million (2013/14)
Number of employees
13,000 (2012)
Website Official Website

Aitken Spence PLC (Scottish pronunciation:/ɪtkinˈspɛns/, Sinhalese: එයිට්කින් ස්පෙන්ස්, Tamil: எய்ட்கின் ஸ்பென்ஸ்) is a Sri Lankan blue chip conglomerate[1] with operations in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific.[2][3] Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983, it has major interests in hotels, travel, maritime services and logistics.[2] The group also has a significant presence in printing, plantations, power generation, financial services, IT, BPO/KPO sector, elevator agency services, garments, and property development.[2]

Aitken Spence has been recognised by Forbes as one of the most successful publicly traded companies with annual sales under US$1 billion outside of the United States, for three consecutive years.[4] In 2012, Aitken Spence was adjudged the top winner of the Best Corporate Citizen Award 2012 presented by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and has retained the title for 11 consecutive years.[5] The Company is one of the first signatories to the UN’s Global Compact in Sri Lanka.[6]



Patrick G. Spence

Whilst the roots of Aitken Spence can be dated back to Wilson & Archer Partnership of the 1830s in the early British Colonial Ceylon, the company began to take its current form after the signing of a formal partnership agreement between Thomas Clark and Patrick Gordon Spence—Scottish merchants and shipping agents[7] in Galle—on 1 September 1868, wherein Clark Spence & Co. was established.[8][9] Clark Spence & Co.'s trading segment at this stage included exports of natural vein graphite (plumbago), gems, hides, Sappan wood, ebony, coffee, coconut oil, coir yarn, bristle fibre, arrack, and citronella oil to United Kingdom, Continental Europe, United States of America and Australia; and imports of Burmese rice and coal for steamer ship bunkers.[10]

On 5 April 1871, Patrick Gordon Spence, secured Clark Spence & Co. as the sole agent of Lloyd’s of London in Ceylon.[9] In order to service the Agency for the Lloyd's of London for the Port of Colombo, Clark Spence & Co. partnered with Britton, Aitken & Co. to open a branch office in Colombo. On New Year’s Day, 1873, E.C. Britton opted out of the Britton, Aitken & Co. partnership, resulting in Patrick Gordon Spence, Edward Aitken and S.R. Aitken coming together to form Aitken Spence & Co. to manage the operations in Colombo, whilst Clark Spence & Co. continued in partnership to operate in Galle.[8][9] In 1876, Aitken Spence & Co. obtained the Lloyds agency from Clark Spence & Co.[8] Aitken Spence had also obtained the local agency of Morgan Crucible Company for trading in plumbago.[7] As Colombo became the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, Aitken Spence & Co became more prominent and subsequently its partner company, Clark Spence & Co. originally based in Galle, became a subsidiary of Aitken Spence & Co.[11]

Edward Aitken

By the 1880s, Aitken Spence had also secured the shipping agencies Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd and Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland for Ceylon.[12] The company moved into plantations sector as an agency house in the early 1900s and with the onset of the Great Depression, began to withdraw from its trading business. In 1918, Aitken Spence purchased the Freudenberg Building in Colombo, and made it its company headquarters having renamed the building as Lloyds Building. As a pioneer in port operations, Aitken Spence was entrusted in coordinating the Operations of Colombo Port during the Second World War.[8][9]

Aitken Spence became a Private Company in 1952.[8] In its centenary year, 1968, it appointed its first Sri Lankan Chairman,[8] E.L. Van Langenberg.[13] By 1971, as Sri Lanka was preparing to end British dominion and declare as republic, the company became a wholly Sri Lankan owned entity.[14] In 1972, it began to offer shares to its executives, thereby broad basing its ownership. The Company eventually moved on from this model and in 1983 offered its shares to the general public on the Colombo Stock Exchange with an issued share capital of Rs. 51 million.[8][15]

During the early 1960s and early 1970s, Insurance and Plantations sectors—which were core business segments of Aitken Spence, where the Company had been well established at the time—were nationalized.[16][17] However, the Group's marine insurance segment (including its Lloyd Agency) continued to operate as it did not fall within the purview of nationalization.

Despite the setbacks from nationalization, in realizing the then government's thrust to boost tourism, Aitken Spence launched its tourism segment in 1972 with investments in its first hotel (Neptune Hotel in Beruwala, Sri Lanka opened in 1974).[16] The company then entered into Aviation in 1974 (as general sales agent for Singapore Airlines in Sri Lanka).[8] In consolidating its travel agency business that had begun with the launch of Aitken Spence Hotels in 1974, Aitken Spence set up Aitken Spence Travels in 1977 as inbound and outbound tour operators in Sri Lanka and as agents for Eurail and Britrail.[8][18] Tourism is now a core business segment of Aitken Spence.

With Sri Lanka adopting open market economic policies focused on export led growth in 1977, Aitken Spence forayed further into new business segments : Container and allied services in 1979; Garments and apparels in 1979;[19] International courier service agency with TNT in 1981;[8] and Elevators in 1989 as agent of OTIS.[8] With insurance sector being deregulated in the 1980s, the Group played a pivotal role in the resurgence of private sector insuarance as a proponent of the National Insurance Corporation and Union Assuarance Ltd, stakes in which Aitken Spence subsequently divested. Aitken Spence reentered Plantations sector, when the sector was reprivatized in 1992, through its stake in Udapussellawa Plantation PLC that was later divested.

In response to the Power Crisis in Sri Lanka in 1996, Aitken Spence began to explore investment opportunities in power generation sector, with first two power plants coming online in 2002.[20] The Group also maintained container vessel operations, with acquisition of five ships in a joint venture with Ceyline Group in 2003, which it later divested in 2008. In 2010, in continuing its partnership with Ceyline Group, Aitken Spence invested in CINEC, Sri Lanka's largest private higher education institution.

Aitken Spence was the first Sri Lankan resort operator to embark on overseas resort operations having acquired Bathala Island Resort of Maldives in 1993.[8][21] In 1996, Aitken Spence entered Bangladesh through Aitken Spence Cargo with its shipping services.[22] A decade later, in 2006, Aitken Spence entered the Indian hospitality sector, having secured management contracts for five hotel properties in India.[8] On the same year, the company broke new ground by becoming the first Sri Lankan company to venture into port efficiency management outside of Sri Lanka, when it undertook to improve efficiency of ports in the African continent.[8][23] The company increased its global presence even further by obtaining the management of four hotel properties in Oman in 2007.[8] In 2013, Aitken Spence announced its proposed venture into Fiji to manage the Ports of Suva and Lautoka in a public private partnership with the Government of Fiji.[3][24] The Group has expressed interest to further diversify its investments in Fiji, venturing into hospitality, power and printing sectors.[25] Currently, the company has operations in seven countries (Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, India, South Africa, Oman, Fiji), spanning two continents[26] with 13,000 employees.[27]

Governance structure[edit]

Aitken Spence is governed by the Chairman and the Board of Directors and is managed by the Group Management Committee.[28]

Chairman and Board of Directors[edit]

The current Chairman of Aitken Spence is Mr. Harry Jayawardena. He is the Founder Director and current Chairman/Managing Director of the Stassen Group of Companies – a diversified group in exports and import trade, and also the current Chairman of the Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka (DCSL) PLC .[28]

The current panel of Board Directors includes Mr. Rajan Brito, Deputy Chairman/Managing Director; and executive directors Dr. Rohan M Fernando, Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena; and the non executive directors Mr. G.C. Wickremasinghe, Mr. Charles Gomez, Mr. Niranjan Deva Aditya, Mr. Manilal Fernando, Mr. Rajan Asirwatham and Mr.A.L. Gooneratne (Alternate to Mr. N.J. De S. Deva Aditya).[28][29]

Aitken Spence Towers, Corporate Headquarters of Aitken Spence Group, in Colombo. 02.

Group Management Committee[edit]

Group Management Committee is headed by Mr. Rajan Brito. The other members of the Group Management Committee are Dr. Rohan Fernando, Dr. Parakarama Dissanayake, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, Mr. Ranjan Casie Chetty, Mr. Rohantha Peiris, Ms. Nilanthi Sivapragasam, Ms. Nimmi Guneratne, Mr. Susith Jayawickrama, Mr. Rohan Pandithakorralage, Mr. Dinesh Mendis, Mr. Vipula Gunatilleke, Mr. Prasanna Karunathilake, Mr. Leel Wickremarachchi, Mr. Jayantha Fernando, Mr. Keethi Jayaweera, Mr. Gihan Salgado, Mr. Nalin Jayasundera and Mr. Nilantha Wakwella.[30]

Corporate sustainability[edit]

Aitken Spence's sustainability framework is rated platinum and has been ranked 2nd in the STING Corporate Accountability Index 2012, where corporate accountability performance of 63 corporate entities of Sri Lanka—LMD 50 companies, 9 SOEs on compulsory basis—were analyzed.[31][32] STING Consultants have also recognized Aitken Spence's Integrated Sustainability Policy[33][34] as ‘Best in Class for Policy Coverage’ in 2011 and 2012.[35][36]

As a result of the company’s long standing engagement with the local network of the UN Global Compact, Aitken Spence has been admitted to the Board and the Steering Committee of the Sri Lanka Network.[37] Dr. Rohan Fernando, Head of Plantations and Business Development at Aitken Spence, is the current Chairman of the Global Compact Sri Lanka Network.[38]

Aitken Spence is amongst the first 38 companies in the world to endorse the Women's Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact to promote gender equality in business, and the first company to do so in Sri Lanka.[39][40]

Aitken Spence is also one of the first companies in Sri Lanka to pledge its support to the Caring for Climate initiative, which is a joint effort by UNEP, UNFCCC and UNGC to promote positive climate action in business.[41][42]

Aitken Spence has been recognized by Ceylon Chamber of Commerce as one of Sri Lanka's top ten best corporate citizens for the past nine consecutive years (2006-2014).[43][44] In 2012, Aitken Spence was adjudged the Winner of the Best Corporate Citizen Award 2012. The Group was also recognized with sector awards in Economic & Governance sector and Environment sector during that year in addition to being credited with the category award for best Financial Performance.[5] In 2013 and 2014, Aitken Spence was recognized as the second runner-up of the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards and was also recognized as the category winner for environmental management (in 2013) and environmental integration (2014).[45][46]

In July 2013, Aitken Spence launched Empowering Sri Lanka First, an English and IT teaching program for children from its neighbouring communities as its flagship corporate community engagement initiative. The program enrols eight-year-old students for weekend English classes (180 children currently enrolled in pilot phase from Dambulla, Ahungalla, and Mawaramandiya) for a period of three years. The curriculum of the English program has been custom designed by British Council to complement Sri Lanka's local school syllabus and teachers from local communities trained on interactive pedagogy. Aitken Spence has announced its plans to commence the IT component of the program in September 2013.[47] The project was recognized with a merit award at the Best Sustainability Projects Awards 2014.[46]


Aitken Spence operates a chain of 21 hotels and resorts in four countries: Sri Lanka, Maldives, India and Oman[48]—with a room inventory of over 2000 rooms of capacity.[49] Its portfolio includes beach resorts and water villas, Ayurveda holiday resorts, and eco and culture resorts[48] in the 3-5 star category.[50]

Brands of Aitken Spence Hotels include "Heritance Hotels and Resorts", "turyaa by Heritance", "Aitken Spence Hotels and Resorts" and "Adaaran Hotels and Resorts".

Sri Lanka[edit]

Aitken Spence is currently one of the largest resort operators in Sri Lanka.[51]

Heritance Hotels and Resorts[edit]

Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara[edit]

Aitken Spence Group first ventured into hospitality sector in 1974, with the opening of Neptune Hotel—designed by Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa—in Beruwala, Sri Lanka.[50] In July 2011, the Group rebranded the hotel as Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara after a major renovation wherein the hotel was converted to an Ayurveda wellness resort.[52]

Heritance Ahungalla[edit]
Exterior view of Heritance Kandalama

Heritance Ahungalla, formerly known as Triton, is Sri Lanka’s first five star beach resort—launched in 1981 in Ahungalla, a town in southern coastal belt of Sri Lanka. Originally designed by Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa, the 152 roomed 5 star resort was relaunched under the Heritance brand in June 2006 subsequent to a USD 13 million refurbishment.[49] The hotel is the first hotel in Sri Lanka to receive the ISO 50001 certification for energy management.[53]

Heritance Kandalama[edit]

Heritance Kandalama, the flagship hotel of Aitken Spence, is located in Kandalama, Dambulla in proximity to two UNESCO World Heritage SitesSigiriya and Dambulla Cave Temple.[49] The hotel is built into a natural rock outcrop within a jungle setting and overlooks the Kandalama Reservoir.[49] Designed by Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa,[54] it is the first hotel in the world to be LEED certified.[55] The hotel was also the first in Asia to be Green Globe certified for its ecotourism best practices.[56]

Heritance Kandalama operates its own eco-park[57] that houses a nature museum of animals in the Kandalama area, an animal rehabilitation centre (to treat injured animals), a herbal garden and plant nursery, a bee-keeping project, a waste-water recycling facility and a garbage sort out and recycling area.[58]

The hotel is equipped with a conference hall to cater to the MICE market.[49][59]

Heritance Tea Factory[edit]

Heritance Tea Factory is a concept hotel wherein a 61-year-old dilapidated tea factory has been remodelled and conserved as a hotel.[60] Located in Heathersett Estate (25 acre tea estate),[61] Kandapola in the Nuwara Eliya district, the 4 star resort is considered to be the highest elevated (6,800 ft above sea level)[49] luxury hotel in Sri Lanka. Conceptualized by Mr. G. C. Wickremasinghe, a former chairman and current board member of Aitken Spence PLC, and designed by Mr. Nihal Bodhinayake, the hotel came to operation in 1996.[62] The hotel was awarded the Asia Pacific Heritage Merit Award in 2001 by UNESCO for preserving the tea factory and its colonial heritage.[61] In February 2012, Heritance Tea Factory was also recognized by the Pacific Asia Travel Association(PATA) with the Grand Award, first Sri Lankan hotel to be so recognized, in the Heritage and Culture category.[62] In 2014, Heritance Tea Factory's cultivation and processing of tea was certified to Sri Lanka Standards Institute's organic tea certification standards, being the first tea producer to be so certified in Sri Lanka.[63]

Turyaa Kalutara[edit]

Turyaa Kalutara is a 200-room property in Waskaduwa, Kalutara, which was formerly known as "The Sands by Aitken Spence Hotels", "Ramada Kalutara" and "Golden Sun". The hotel which initially held 112 rooms was relaunched as Turyaa Kalutara after an addition of new wing to the hotel in November 2015.[64]

Aitken Spence Hotels and Resorts[edit]

Earl's Regency-Kandy

Aitken Spence Hotels and Resorts currently operates the following hotels in Sri Lanka: Bandarawela Hotel, Earl’s Regency - Kandy, and Hotel Hilltop – Kandy.[48]

Browns Beach Hotel – Negombo, another Aitken Spence hotel, is currently being reconstructed and is scheduled to open in 2015, rebranded as Heritance Negombo.[65][66][67]

Aitken Spence has previously announced its interest to develop its properties in Ahungalla and Nilaveli as resort properties.[68][69][70]

In November 2013, Aitken Spence announced its plans to enter into a joint venture with Spanish hotel chain RIU Hotels to build a 500-room 5 star resort in Ahungalla to be opened in Winter 2015.[71] The business model for the new hotel involves attracting long haul travelers to Sri Lanka through charter flight holiday packages facilitated by TUI. Model is set on Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport & Sri Lanka's Southern Expressway providing the connectivity for tourists—disembarking from TUI's weekly 787 Dreamliner Charters—to reach the hotel.[72][73] In May 2015, Aitken Spence Travels partnered with Alpitour Group and SriLankan Airlines to operate charters from Italy to attract 8000 tourists to this all inclusive hotel on a club med model.[74]

In June 2014, Aitken Spence revealed plans to convert the Clan House, former headquarters of Clark Spence & Co. located within the Galle Fort, to a 15-room heritage boutique hotel.[75]

In September 2014, Aitken Spence acquired a strategic stake in Amethyst Resort, Passikudah with the management rights.[76]

In 2014, Aitken Spence Hotels partnered with SriLankan Airlines's FlySmiLes loyalty program, which allows frequent flyers on Oneworld carriers the opportunity to gain/redeem miles for their stay at any of Aitken Spence's Sri Lankan hotels.[77]

Aitken Spence School of Hospitality[edit]

Aitken Spence opened its School of Hospitality in November 2007 at Ahungalla, Sri Lanka with the assistance of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and Hilfswerk to bridge the skills gap in the tourism sector.[78] The school has so far provided training opportunities for marginalized youth from Uva, North Central, East and Northern provinces in food and beverage services.[79][80]


Aitken Spence entered Maldivian hotel sector in 1993 with its investment in Bathala Island Resort.[8] Aitken Spence is also the largest foreign resort operator in the Maldives[81] and is among the five largest resort operators in the country.[1]

Adaaran Hotels and Resorts[edit]

Adaaran Club Rannalhi

Branded as "Adaaran",[82] the company currently operates 5 hotels in properties located on the islands of Vadoo, Meedhupparu, Rannalhi and Hudhuranfushi.[49][83]

Adaaran Club Rannalhi[edit]

Adaaran Club Rannalhi is a 4 star resort located in Rannalhi, a southern island in the Malé Atoll, with 30 water villas (one of the first resorts to adopt over-water accommodation in Maldives) and 100 beach villas with a room capacity of 132 rooms.[49]

Adaaran Prestige Vadoo[edit]

Adaaran Prestige Vadoo resort, acquired by Aitken Spence in October 2007 is the latest addition to the Group’s resorts in Maldives. Located in close proximity to Malé, it houses 50 luxury water villas including six Japanese styled water bungalows.[49]

Adaaran Select Hudhuran Fushi[edit]

Adaaran Select Hudhuran Fushi is a 4 star resort comprising 137 villas that includes 37 luxury villas.[49]

Adaraan Select Meedhupparu[edit]

Situated on Meedhupparu Island in Raa Atoll, Adaaran Select Meedhupparu is a 4 star resort with 215 beach and garden villas.[49]

Adaraan Prestige Water Villas[edit]

Adaaran Prestige Water Villas, also located in the Meedhupparu Island, consists of 20 luxury water villas. The 5 star resort was recognized as the World’s Leading Water Villa 2010 at the World Travel Awards 2010.[49]

Aarah Island[edit]

In March 2015, Aitken Spence acquired "Aarah", another island property in Maldives in Raa Atoll, to develop a 163-room, USD $ 50mn resort by 2016, having received Maldivian Government's approval to expand buildable area in Maldivian archipelago.[84][85]

Raafushi Island[edit]

In May 2015, Aitken Spence obtained the lease for the Raafushi Island in the Noonu Atoll to build a four star resort.[86][87]


Turyaa Chennai[edit]

In June 2014, Aitken Spence announced the purchase of a brand new five star 143 room hotel in Chennai.[88] The company plans to commence operations of this hotel in July 2015 under the brand Turyaa Chennai.[76]


In Oman, Aitken Spence currently owns one hotel and manages five hotels:[89]

Al Falaj Hotel Muscat[edit]

Al Falaj Hotel is a 140 roomed 4 star resort located in the city of Muscat. Aitken Spence bought the hotel from Oman Hotels and Tourism Company for whom the company had been managing the property since 2008.[49][90]

Al Wadi Hotel, Sohar[edit]

Al Wadi Hotel is a 79-room 3 star resort in Sohar.[49]

Desert Nights Camp, Al Wasil[edit]

Desert Nights Camp is a 5 star tented resort property with 30 luxurious Bedouin style tents located in Al Wasil, a township close to Muscat.[49]

Ruwi Hotel, Muscat[edit]

Located in close proximity to Seeb International Airport, Ruwi Hotel is a 3 star hotel with a room inventory of 100 rooms.[49]

Sur Plaza Hotel, Sur[edit]

Sur Plaza Hotel is a 4 star 95 room resort located in Sur in proximity to Green Turtle Beach at Ras-al-Hadd.[49]

Jabal Akhdar Hotel, Nizwa[edit]

Jabal Akhdar Hotel is a 26-room boutique hotel located in Nizwa, 152 km from the Muscat International Airport.[91]

Logistic solutions[edit]

Aitken Spence Logistics offers container shipping

Aitken Spence offers integrated transportation services in air-sea freight forwarding, warehousing, distribution, couriers and ground transport. Its services cover the complete physical cargo flow process from shipper to recipient. It also handles third and fourth party logistics management contracts.[92] The company also represents DB Schenker in Sri Lanka and Maldives.[93]

Cargo consolidation and storage facilities[edit]

In terms of cargo consolidation, the company offers both local and multi country cargo consolidation. In Sri Lanka, it operates its own container freight station with in-house customs that complies with C-TPAT standards. Aitken Spence Logistics also services shipments of garments through its garments on hanger facilities and quality assurance centre facilities. The company also offers refrigerated storage services in terms of cold rooms and reefer containers to its clients.[92]

With respect to warehousing facilities in Sri Lanka, Aitken Spence operates a central cargo storage complex in Mabole and a network of regional complexes located in Wattala, Welisara, Kandana, Mattakkuliya, Koggala and Mihintale.[92]

Container handling, repair and modification facilities[edit]

The container services arm of Aitken Spence Logistics that processes a container every two minutes is the first company in Sri Lanka to operate its own container depot (first at Mattakkuliya in 1979 and shifted to Mabole in 1989).[94] In addition, Aitken Spence also runs a Lloyd’s approved facility for container modification and repair services.[92]

Ground transport and project cargo handling[edit]

Aitken Spence also offers transportation through its transport fleet of prime movers with 20’/40’ trailers, lorries and tank trucks.[92] The Group is also capable in handling Heavy Over-Dimensional Project cargo. It is also the agent for Flexi Tank Services in Sri Lanka for Trans Ocean Distribution.[92]

Freight forwarding, courier services and air cargo[edit]

Hapag Lloyd is represented in Sri Lanka through Aitken Spence Maritime

In addition to its own haulage, Aitken Spence also provides freight forwarding through its global partner network. Aitken Spence Cargo, specialized freight-forwarding arm of Aitken Spence, provides air freight, sea freight, brokerage, customs facilitation and supply chain solutions to clients in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives.[92]

Aitken Spence handles cargo sales agencies for Singapore Airlines Cargo, Livingston Air, Air Jamaica, Air Italy, My Travels, Qatar Airways Cargo and EVA Air in Sri Lanka. It is also the General Sales Agents (Cargo) for My Travels in Maldives & Bangladesh; Livingston Air in Bangladesh, Singapore and Thailand; Continental Airlines Cargo in Bangladesh, while being the cargo sales agents for Livingston Air and SriLankan Airlines Cargo in the Maldives.

Aitken Spence Group represents TNT Express courier services in Sri Lanka and provides both domestic and international courier services. It also represents Spring Global Mail in Sri Lanka.[92]

Maritime services[edit]

Aitken Spence offers multitude of services in the maritime sector through its maritime wing, Aitken Spence Maritime. Its services include liner agency representation(of G6 Alliance), cruise vessel representation, feeder and casual caller representation, break bulk facilities, and ship servicing and facilitation (crew services, bunkering, repairs, supply of provisions) for ports in Sri Lanka. It also provides ship chartering services.[92]

In January 2005, in a joint venture with Ceyline Holdings, Aitken Spence re-entered the ship owning for time charter business in order to profit from the then shipping boom.[95][96] In 2007, with the saturation of the ship chartering market, Aitken Spence exited the ship owning business and shifted its strategic focus to expanding its port management business. [97][98]

In 2007, Aitken Spence in partnership with Port of Singapore Authority submitted a joint bid to build and operate the South Container Terminal of the Colombo Port Expansion Project. When the initial bidding process of Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) stalled and was reactivated, Aitken Spence partnered with China Merchant Holdings International and was the sole bidder in support of the project.[99][100] In 2010, the bid was approved by SLPA and construction began on the USD $450mn project.[101][102] However, in 2012, citing cost escalations and changes in financing requirements, Aitken Spence sold its stake to CMHI in 2012, realizing a LKR Rs. 630mn capital gain.[103][104]

Aitken Spence is the first Sri Lankan company to venture into port efficiency improvement, training and container terminal management overseas with its operations in the African continent.[92] As a result of the strategic partnership with the Port of Durban from 2006, Aitken Spence won a "ship planning and mentoring" project covering the Ports of Durban, Cape Town and Ngqura in South Africa in 2010. In 2011, Aitken Spence announced that it has won a deal to improve the efficiency of Port of Nacala in Mozambique.[105] In 2013, Aitken Spence took over the management of two Fijian ports, Suva and Lautoka, with its purchase of 51% of Fiji Ports Terminal Ltd, a 100% owned subsidiary of Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd.[3][24][106] The company further consolidated its presence in the Fijian maritime sector in acquiring a 20% stake in Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd. in November 2015.[107]

In 2010, Aitken Spence renewed its alliance with Ceyline Group of Companies when it invested in Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College (CINEC).[108][109] In 2012, Aitken Spence increased its stake in CINEC from 10% to 40% in a move to further strengthen its maritime portfolio.[110] In 2013, further to Aitken Spence's entry into port management in Fiji, Fijian Government announced plans to invite CINEC to manage Fiji National University's maritime school.[111][112]


In the services sector, Aitken Spence operates in a number of key domains: inbound tourism, outbound travel, airline agencies, conventions and exhibitions, elevator agency, financial services, insurance, business and knowledge process outsourcing and luxury lifestyle solutions.[113]

Destination management[edit]

Aitken Spence has represented Singapore Airlines in Sri Lanka since 1972

With regards to inbound tourism sector, Aitken Spence Travels – a joint venture with TUI—is the largest destination management company in Sri Lanka representing over 200 international tour operators, and has been recognized with Sri Lanka’s Presidential Award for the Best Destination Management Company. The outbound travel arm of Aitken Spence Travels is an IATA approved outbound travel agency and has been in operation since 1975, making it one of the oldest IATA agencies in Sri Lanka. In addition to its core business of airline ticketing, it is also the general sales agent for Rail Europe and Tradewinds. Aitken Spence Travels is also the representative in Sri Lanka for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a leading global travel management company.[113] Aitken Spence is also the preferred partner of Emirates Holidays in Sri Lanka.[114] In financial year 2014/2015, Aitken Spence Travels handled over 100,000 tourists to Sri Lanka.[115]

Event management & MICE[edit]

Aitken Spence Conventions & Exhibitions is the event management arm of the Aitken Spence PLC and is specialized in organizing Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.[116][117][118] The company also represents Pacific World MICE company in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.[119]

Airline agency[edit]

In terms of airline agency services, Aitken Spence acts as the General Sales Agent for Singapore International Airlines in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Aitken Spence is also the General Sales Agent for SriLankan Airlines in Maldives.[113] The Group also holds the Passenger General Sales Agency in Sri Lanka for Turkish Airlines.

Financial services[edit]

In the financial services sector, Aitken Spence in a joint venture with Mercantile Merchant Bank, Sri Lanka offers Western Union Money Transfer services in Sri Lanka with a network of over 2000 sub-agent locations countrywide, which includes banks, financial institutions and retail outlets.[113]

Aitken Spence serves as survey and claim settling agents for Lloyd's of London since 1876, covering the commercial ports in Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives. It also carries out quality surveys and hull and machinery surveys. In addition, Aitken Spence Insurance also acts as survey and claims settling agents for several other reputed insurance companies worldwide including AVIVA, People's Insurance Company of China, Oriental Insurance Co. of India, New India Assurance, Iffco-Tokio of India, Royal & Sun Alliance Group, Northern Marine Underwriters, China Pacific Property Insurance Co. Ltd, Sumitomo Fire & Marine Insurance Co. Ltd., Tokyo Marine & Fire Insurance Co. of Japan, Cesam of France, QBE Insurance of Singapore and American Home Assurance Company[113]

Knowledge and information technology[edit]

The Group also provides human resources consulting in Sri Lanka and overseas under brand "Genuity".[113]

Aitken Spence Technologies offers IT in, Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), both based on core-Oracle Applications and Technologies, and Application Development based on Open Source/Java technologies.[120][121] In 2012, Aitken Spence was appointed as Oracle University Education Re-seller Partner and Approved Training Centre.[122] Aitken Spence Technologies is also a member of IBM PartnerWorld program.[123] In October 2013, PlantERM, the Enterprise Resource Management application developed for the first time in Sri Lanka for the plantation sector by Aitken Spence Technologies, received the NBQSA Gold Award in the General Applications category.[124]

Aitken Spence offers finance & accounting outsourcing services through its subsidiary Aitken Spence Business Solutions.[125][126]

Elevator agency[edit]

Aitken Spence also provides elevator services acting as the agent for OTIS Elevators (part of United Technologies Corporation) in Sri Lanka and Maldives.[113]

Lifestyle Offerings[edit]

Conceptualized initially (in June 2013) as Sri Lanka's first high end retirement community, Aitken Spence has since then modified the offering of its property venture, Heritage Grove, to broad base its market segment beyond senior living, to a luxury lifestyle solution based on market feedback. Located in Negombo, Sri Lanka, the proposed luxury living solution is set to consist of 140 luxury villas, fully serviced with club house, restaurant and spa facilities with access to beach front through Heritance Negombo, Aitken Spence's latest beach hotel property.[127][128]

Strategic investments[edit]

Power generation[edit]

Aitken Spence first entered the power sector in 1996 in a joint venture with a Japanese investor to build two thermal power plants in Sri Lanka[20] with the Government of Sri Lanka inviting private sector to invest in resolving the then power crisis. However, due to the longevity of the process in obtaining clearances, the Japanese partner backed out and in 1999, Aitken Spence (51%) partnered with Commonwealth Development Corporation Globeleq (29%), Baneras House of India (10%) and Wartsila Finland Oy (10%) to construct the Ace Matara Power Station (24.4MW) and Ace Horana Power Station (24.4MW).[129] Subsequently, following a Request for Proposal by Ceylon Electricity Board in February 2002, Aitken Spence together with Caterpillar Power Ventures Corporation began the construction of the Embilipitiya Power Station (100MW), which came online in April 2005.[129][130]

With the Government of Sri Lanka taking a policy directive to substitute petroleum based power generation with cheaper coal power in 2010, the power purchasing agreements of the three thermal power plants of Aitken Spence that expired (Ace Power Generation Matara and Ace Power Generation Horana in 2012 and Ace Power Embilipitiya in April 2015) were not renewed.[131][132][133][134]

The company has attempted to increase its presence globally, amidst an unsuccessful venture to Bangladesh, with expressions of interest being declared in Fijian power sector.[25][135]

Ace Wind Power, Ambewela

Hydro, Wind, Solar, Waste-to-Energy and Dendro Power[edit]

Aitken Spence has also sought to diversify its power portfolio with increased presence in the clean and renewable energy domain in Sri Lanka.

Aitken Spence Power has already completed construction of the 2.5 MW Branford Hydro Power Plant in Matale, and of Ace Wind Power power plant in Ambewela[136] that has an installed capacity of 3 MW. Both power plants were connected to the national grid during 2012/13 financial year.[137] Aitken Spence Power is also currently building the Aitken Spence Power Station, Waste-To-Energy Coprocessing Plant at Muthurajawela.[138]

Aitken Spence Hotels (through biomass plants and solar generation)[139] and Plantations (through mini hydro projects)[140] have also undertaken mini power projects of their own. Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara is the first hotel in Sri Lanka to enter into a net metering agreement with CEB.[139]

Aitken Spence was the only Sri Lankan power sector Operations and Maintenance operator to have received ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certifications. The company has expressed its capacity to undertake operations and maintenance service contracts internationally.[137]

Plantation services[edit]

Dunsinane Estate, Nuwara Eliya

Aitken Spence has been in the plantations industry from the early 1900s.[141] Aitken Spence Plantation Managements Plc currently holds a majority stake (a 61.64% as at 31 March 2012) in Elpitiya Plantations PLC.[142] In 1975, the estates originally owned by Aitken Spence were acquired under the plantation nationalization program. In 1992, with the re-privatization of plantations industry, Aitken Spence reentered the sector in taking over the management of Udapussellawa Plantation PLC. It also invested in a minority stake in Talawakelle Plantations. Aitken Spence later divested its stake in Udapussellawa and Talawakelle Plantations[143]

The management of Elpitiya Plantations PLC was taken over by Aitken Spence in 1997 from Carsons through Aitken Spence Plantations Managements Ltd. The Group currently manages 13 estates (with over 8800 hectares of cultivated land) in Sri Lanka, producing high, mid and low grown teas.[142] Of the 13 estates, six estates are located on the up cluster in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya districts (estates: Dunsinane, Sheen, Fernlands, Meddecombra, New Peacock and Nayapane) and seven estates in the low cluster (Deviturai, Talgaswella, Gulugahakanda, Lelwala, Ketandola, Benthota and Elpitiya). These estates conform with multiple standards on sustainability including ISO 22000 for food safety management system, Rainforest Alliance certification, Ethical Tea Partnership and Forest Stewardship Council certification.[144] In addition to tea, Elpitiya Plantations also produces rubber, coconut and palm oil.[145]

Group has diversified its plantation operations into other areas such as oil palm milling, hydro power, furniture manufacture, eco tourism, and cinnamon planting.[142]

The Group also has its own tea brand for black tea and green tea in Sri Lanka under the name "Harrow Ceylon Choice".[142]

In January 2013, Elpitiya Plantations PLC entered a joint venture with Dianhong International Limited, Hong Kong, a subsidiary of Yunnan Dianhong Group Company Limited of China, to grow and process tea in Sri Lanka for Chinese Speciality Tea market.[146][147]

In April 2013,shares of Aitken Spence Plantation Managements Ltd was introduced to the Colombo Stock Exchange.[148]

Garment manufacturing[edit]

Aitken Spence entered the garments manufacturing sector in 1979[19] with its factory at Mattakkuliya.[149] Currently, Aitken Spence operates two factories in Sri Lanka—in Matugama (opened in 1993 in support of the 200 garment factories initiative of the then Government of Sri Lanka)[8] and at Koggala Export Processing Zone (since 2008)[150]—that manufactures and exports high quality men’s/boys shirts, ladies/girls blouses, ladies skirts, pants and shorts for clients such as The Gap, Inc., Columbia Sportswear, Kohl's and Sears in the US, and Marks & Spencer Work Wear, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Boots and Marriot in Europe.[19]


In 1955, Clark Spence & Co. opened its own press to service its internal printing needs in Galle. Printing services were gradually opened for external parties and with the higher demand, the service offering was expanded with a full-fledged printing plant. Subsequently, in 1962, printing plant was moved from Galle to Colombo (Vauxhall St. Colombo 02 premises, where current Aitken Spence Group Headquarters is located) and ownership transferred to Aitken Spence & Co.[151][152]

Aitken Spence Green Printing Facility

In 1977, whole printing department was burnt from a fire and its operations were halted. In 1982, a new printing plant was built at Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13 to resume printing services.[151] In 2010, due to capacity constraints, the company made a decision to relocate this printing plant yet again.[153]

In recognizing the demand for environmentally friendly printing services, Aitken Spence invested USD 7mn to construct Sri Lanka's first green printing facility at Mawaramandiya in Kelaniya. The new printing press commenced commercial operations in July 2012.[154][155] Currently the plant functions 24 hours a day, offering services to a wide cross section of sectors such as coffee table books, periodicals, magazines, and Annual Reports for local and international corporate clients.[156] Aitken Spence Printing was the first printer to introduce the concept of printed, illustrated and bound Annual Reports for companies in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. Aitken Spence Printing also produces several magazines for different publishing companies in Sri Lanka, as well as paperback books for publishers in the UK and USA.[151]

The production of printed packaging materials represents about 80 percent of business for the printing segment. In regards to packaging materials, it currently caters to major brands in garment industry, FMCG, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals in Sri Lanka. The company also caters to international clients such as Marks & Spencer, British Home Stores, Tesco and DBA Europe.[151]

Next Generation Technology Products[edit]

In October 2014, Aitken Spence invested in Eco Corp Asia, a company holding the exclusive rights in Sri Lanka to market nanotechnology based liquid glass coating product of Nanopool GmbH.[157]


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External links[edit]