Monday, October 2, 2023

Eskimo Fashion Knitwear celebrates extraordinary 40-year journey brimming with confidence for the future

Eskimo Fashion Knitwear (Private) Limited marked its milestone 40th anniversary recently, celebrating an ongoing journey of leadership, passion to perform, innate resilience and innovation, confidently paving the way for a stronger future.

Renowned for the manufacturing of export quality knitwear for international markets, the company’s journey began four decades ago when two German entrepreneurs visited Sri Lanka and were offered a compelling proposition of incentives to commence operations.

Eskimo Fashion broke ground in 1982, constructing its initial factory in Kadirana North, Negombo, a fishing town by the sea. The company expanded from its roots of operating a small 200 employee plant, into accelerating and multiplying capacity over the years. Currently, Eskimo Fashion manages plants in the Pallekele Free Trade Zone and in Punanai, including the Negombo factory, employing over 2,000 staff. The first exports were made in the year 1983. Now in its 40th year, the company is recognised as a major exporter serving France, Scandinavian countries, the UK and Germany, working with famous brands including Decathlon, C&A, Petit Bateau, Sterntaler and NEXT. Eskimo Fashion has scheduled further expansion for Punanai in 2023, driving additional long-term success.

Eskimo Fashion’s four decades of continued success has not only hinged on momentum but strategic resilience, and the ability to rebound and respond to setbacks. Over the years, despite facing worldwide crises and country specific difficulties, the company’s innate perseverance has sharpened its resolve, especially in dealing with the current complex socio-economic challenges. Eskimo Fashion’s success today is testament to its strength and continuous pivoting towards positive change.

Aligned to Eskimo’s vision of ensuring first class manufacturing operations, special emphasis is placed on adhering to compliance standards. The company conforms to globally recognised product certifications including the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, one of the world’s best-known labels for environmentally friendly and socially responsible production for the clothing and textile industry, Organic Content Standard, a special certification which confirms the presence of 100% organic cotton in the final product, Global Organic Textile Standard, Responsible Wool Standard, Forest Stewardship Council, Sedex NBSEI certificate of compliance and ISO 14001. All garments produced by Eskimo Fashion comply with these standards, providing credible assurance of the safety of textile products at all stages of production.

Central to Eskimo Fashion’s achievements is its shared values and culture. The Eskimo ethos is one of belonging, an established family culture where everyone is looked after in good times and in bad. Harnessing the power of its people, training including overseas exposure is provided for staff to develop their skills. We have an excellent young and dynamic team, capable of handling the company’s complex and dynamic customer base, and they stand ready to accelerate change in the business and build a trajectory for future growth.

Treating employees with care and empathy, Eskimo Fashion took steps to help employees cope with the stress of harsh economic realities. Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, the company made sure that full salaries were paid to employees throughout the year, delivered dry rations to quarantined employees and their families, and did not retrench staff. When the ongoing economic crisis hit the country in 2022, the company continued to extend support to all its employees by a second salary increment and a payment of a hardships allowance in the first half of year. In addition, since June 2022, on a monthly basis, the company has also been providing dry rations to all the employees including contracted out cleaning and security staff, which were received with utmost gratitude. Eskimo’s employees have always been a top priority and, alongside these provisions, the company succeeded in making a healthy profit, which is a true testament to their dedication and perseverance.

Eskimo’s philosophy also holds ​​environmental sustainability at its core. The Board has identified sustainability as an integral part of Eskimo’s overall strategic plan. Several initiatives have been undertaken to facilitate the company’s sustainability journey, including using 100% organic cotton asserted with its Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification and utilising recycled polyester. Taking a leaf from the company’s German heritage, waste is always separated, strict control of effluent from the dye house is maintained and solar panel installation at the Negombo factory has been completed in 2021. We plan to install solar panels at our two remaining factories in Pallekele and Punanai in the future. 

Eskimo Fashion has always maintained a legacy of giving back to society and communities in which it operates. Over the 40 years the company has grown, the total number of people employed has increased tenfold. Notable CSR programmes undertaken to-date to uplift communities include a water supply project in Kadirana, blood donation campaigns, distribution of stationery items and furniture to local schools, temples, and churches, a tree planting campaign in the Negombo, Pallekele and Punanai surrounding areas, and production and donation of masks to the Health Ministry and police stations during the pandemic.

The success story of Eskimo Fashion is a result of years of determination, effort, and passion displayed by generations of leaders, employees and partners. In commemoration of this journey and in recognition of the efforts of all those who have contributed, 40th anniversary celebrations will be held in all three factories. Drawing inspiration from this milestone, Eskimo Fashion is confidently positioned to deliver value to all stakeholders and looks towards a future of new and exciting opportunities.

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