Q: How does Tokyo Cement measure its performance against its promise of being ‘The Partner in Nation Building’?
A: Tokyo Cement possesses 38 years of expertise in local cement manufacturing. Being one of the first entities to be listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) in 1983, we’re positioned as the largest and only locally owned cement manufacturer.
The value we create reaches all corners of the island, and is seen in the thousands of employment opportunities generated in our facilities and ancillary industries.
We’ve reinvested in our country by provid- ing local and global training opportunities for staff, and conducting skill building programmes for our community. Furthermore, the multiple environmental conser- vation programmes we’ve initiated will continue to add value for generations to come.
Q: And how was your sector impacted by the prevail- ing environment?
A: It has been a difficult year for every sector struggling to recover from last year’s setbacks – including the cement mar- ket, which contracted by approximately six percent.
Construction sites stopped work due to lockdowns and trav- el restrictions kept workers from returning from their home- towns, leaving others stranded in major cities. This impacted the efficiency of construction projects, which incurred addi- tional costs and pushed back delivery timelines.
Q: What measures have been taken to sustain the company over the last year?
A: Restrictions on unnecessary imports helped boost locally produced products, enabling us to use previously underutilised capacity. This helped us fortify a larger market share in areas that were previously dominated by imports.
We fine-tuned marketing efforts and extended support to cus- tomers to meet their efficiency benchmarks.
As for our product mix, we focussed on dry mortar products such as adhesives, plasters and water proofers with enhanced performance stan- dards
Q: Do organisational performance and sustainability go hand in hand?
A: We continuously re-engineer our prod- ucts to improve resource efficiency and min- imise waste by improving product perfor- mance, overhauling conventional construc- tion practices. For example, our Blended Hydraulic Cements have a lower carbon footprint to meet the highest environmental standards.
Tokyo Cement Group played a role in pio- neering renewable biomass energy generation in Sri Lanka with a present capacity of 24 MW. The two biomass power plants in Trincomalee make our local produc- tion process entirely energy independent while the Mahiyangana dendro power plant contributes to the national grid.
Mangrove reforestation and coral reef rehabilitation are among the conservation initiatives we’re engaged in. Our tree planting programme grows native trees to support national reforestation efforts. Each year, our factories plant more than 20,000 trees across the island together with multiple partner organisations.
Q: What is your take of the impact of recent events on Sri Lanka’s external trade prospects?
A: The local cement manufacturing sector comprising two players presently has sufficient capacity (5.8 million metric tonnes – MT) to cater to 90 percent of last year’s requirement of six million MT. For many years, local manufacturers oper- ated with over 45 percent underutilised capacity.
Tokyo Cement Group recently signed a US$ 12 million agreement with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) to increase production. Through local manufacturing and value addition, we help the country save millions in foreign exchange.
This investment will enhance local value creation through the addition of more direct and indirect jobs, compounded by thousands of ancillary product and service suppliers support- ed through local cement manufacturing. In turn, this would set off a ripple effect of economic benefits as envisaged by the government.
Q: What are the company’s plans for the future?
A: We intend to expand our entire value chain whereby our readiness to meet the local construction industry’s future demand is improved. Our hope is to increase local produc- tion capacity by one million MT with the new investment.
This 18 month plan will increase production of our leading brands Ordinary Portland and Blended Hydraulic Cements by using advanced technology. We will increase investments in vertical integrations such as manufactured sand production, raw material sourcing and renewable power generation. We aspire to strengthen R&D capabilities to help improve product performance, and introduce new dry mortar and concrete solutions.
Another aspect of our growth plan involves people devel- opment through better exposure and training with international practices.