A Sri Lankan garment company, Bernard Botejue Industries, has bagged the Best Performing Supplier Award from UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's.

This is the first time a Sri Lankan company has won the award and Bernard's had to beat off competition from China, India, Bangladesh and Turkey to win.

Bernard began sending shipments to the British supermarket with clothing in 2004, starting with Sainsbury's children's wear brand Tu, and now supplies the chain regularly.

"Over the last 3 years our supplies to Sainsbury's have grown," said managing director of Bernard Botejue Industries, Janaka Botejue.

Exports to the UK from Sri Lankan companies like Bernard's have benefited from the GSP+ trade concessions awarded to Sri Lanka by the EU. The GSP+ allows Sri Lankan garment companies to export to EU countries, duty free.

"The GSP + advantage has helped increase exports to the UK," said Botejue.

According to the Sainsbury's buying office in Sri Lanka, Sainsbury's is currently only sourcing children's clothing from Sri Lanka but is now considering the island for adult clothing.

Sainsbury's is the fastest-growing supermarket chain in the UK clothing sector with total turnover of about GBP3bn (US$5.71bn) per year.

Bernard also supplies for Reebok, GAP, Macy's and Marks & Spencer.

By Dilshani Samaraweera.