Sri Lankan textile manufacturer South Asia Textile Industries is to invest LKR1bn (US$7.1m) in an expansion programme that will see it add new machinery to bring "a completely new dimension in textile manufacturing" in the country.

The upgrades, comprising high-speed knitting machines from Italy's Santoni and Singapore's Unitex, will enable the company to develop and produce new and innovative knitted fabrics. High-end fully-computerised printing machines have also been imported from Stork, in Austria and Holland.

Substantial new investment has also been made in South Asia Textile's state-of-the-art testing lab, ready for what the company says are the “next generation of challenges”.

CEO Prithiv Dorai said: “This large scale expansion will allow South Asia Textiles Industries Lanka to reach a completely new dimension in textile manufacturing in Sri Lanka. Not only will it facilitate extensive benefits to local apparel manufacturers in terms of speed and flexibility, but it will also result in a greater availability of the latest fabric styles and colours, in keeping with international trends.”

The company said its financial performance for the full year to the end of March exceeded all expectations with year-on-year growth closing in on 250%. It is also working towards achieving the zero discharge of hazardous chemicals (ZDHC) commitment by 2020.

The company supplies weft knitted fabric and specialises in knitting, dyeing, finishing, printing, brushing, sueding and anti pill micro/polar fleece fabric for customers including Wal-Mart, H&M, Puma, Tesco and PVH. Prior to the latest investments, it had a capacity of 700,000kg per month, according to its website.