Sri Lanka firms should look overseas for expansion: corporate leader

Dec 21, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan businesses are compelled to look overseas to expand sales as the domestic market is too small, a senior corporate executive said, calling for government policies to support expansion abroad. Inward-looking economic policies are making it difficult for firms to build their own brands, said Ranjith Page, chief executive of Cargills (Ceylon), which operates the ‘Food City’ chain of supermarkets, the island’s largest.

The difficulties in expanding overseas would be disastrous for long-term corporate growth owing to the limited domestic market.

“We must open up and encourage competition. We have to build our businesses so we can take the business outside Sri Lanka,” Page told the fifth LBR-LBO CFO Forum organized by Vanguard Management Services held at Ceylon Continental Hotel.

The forum was attended by about 400 senior financial executives from the corporate sector.

Although the economy has been progressively opened up over the last 25-30 years, there were still restrictions on competition and imports that was stifling further growth, Page said.

“Cargills can open another 100 Food Cities, thereafter what? There are only 20 million stomachs to feed,” Page said, referri