Sri Lanka president HE Maithripala Sirisena at the opening of the Hirdaramani Groups new apparel factory in Mullaitivu

Sri Lanka president HE Maithripala Sirisena at the opening of the Hirdaramani Group's new apparel factory in Mullaitivu

Leading Sri Lankan garment manufacturer Hirdaramani Group has opened a new state-of-the-art apparel factory in the north-east of the country, providing key jobs and opportunities in the district most adversely affected by the country's 25-year long civil war.

The factory at Puthukudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu, which began initial operations in March 2015, is the Hirdaramani Group's second investment in the area and makes it the only large-scale regular employer in the vicinity.

And in keeping with the company's commitment to ethical and sustainable manufacturing – which has already seen it set up the world's first custom built green apparel factory and Asia's first Carbon Neutral apparel factory – plans are also underway for the factory to be LEED certified by the end of the year.

Currently employing around 1,000 workers, around half of whom are sewing machine operators, the facility utilises over 320 machines that deliver a monthly capacity of over 150,000 garments.

"As a responsible corporate citizen, the Hirdaramani Group has an unwavering commitment to spearheading positive change and setting an industry precedent," explains director Aroon Hirdaramani.

"The immense potential that we see in Mullaitivu has reinforced our commitment to the area, and we remain dedicated to creating greater awareness both locally and internationally of the need for further investment in northern Sri Lanka. 

"Our goal with this factory has been to solve an important need for a well-trained and competent workforce whilst ensuring the betterment of this community through the creation of jobs and opportunities."

Not only does the factory provide workers with stable incomes, a positive working environment, free meals and custom-made training programmes that strengthen their skill sets, but is also helping in the reconciliation process following the end of the civil war in 2009. It employs more than 100 widows and those who run women-headed households, as well as a total of 26 "differently-abled" people.

"We believe that the key to creating a sustainable change extends beyond CSR, and lies in ensuring that we run a profitable factory, which will continue to expand in the future and create lasting benefits for the community," adds Theodore Gunasekara, CEO at Hirdaramani Group's Woven Cluster.

The company, which employs more than 50,000 people across its production facilities in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Vietnam, has a capacity of 13m articles of clothing each month for customers including Tommy Hilfiger, Levi's, Nike, M&S, Tesco, Ralph Lauren, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

It opened its first factory in northern Sri Lanka in Vavuniya in 2012, and is gradually developing a strong pool of skilled staff in the area. In the longer term it believes the investment is paving the way for the advancement of the country's apparel industry at large.