4/ Value-creation in Our DNA
At the nexus of Expolanka’s expanding international presence is a cohesive and efficient service portfolio that upholds the highest service standards to deliver extraordinary value for the Group’s portfolio of businesses.
Consolidation of ancillary functions and shared services provides the group with a strong base for operations, ensures infusion of corporate values and ethics, improves operational efficiency, leverages synergies, and provides for stronger bargaining power that gives us a competitive edge.
Over the past decade, the Group's expansionary trajectory has been enabled and elevated by our customer-centric approach and ability to evolve and grow alongside our customers. As a global player with a portfolio in various business verticals and geographies, we recognise the importance of building and sustaining strong customer relationships.
Our priority and focus have resulted in long and durable relationships with key customers.
Customer-centricity is a philosophy upheld by our teams and ingrained in the spirit of our business ventures. We are proactive in our engagements and focused on creating long-term value for our customers by upholding the highest service standards, and providing innovative, adaptable, and reliable solutions.
Listening to our customers is an essential element that we practice through customer surveys, proactive communication, and reliable support that complements our service delivery.
The business line reviews detail the evolution of our customer engagement strategies and the effectiveness of our efforts during the financial year 2022/23.
The Group’s operations in multiple business verticals, especially in the logistics sector as a middle-mile player, involve working with a diverse network of suppliers, service providers, and business partners. Our focus on due diligence and supplier assessment coupled with strong supplier engagement are steps towards ensuring responsible transactions across a well-integrated supply chain.
Supplier assessments include a review of regulatory compliance and social and environmental risk assessments, and are supported by site visits, quality checks, routine reviews, and audits. We work closely with our suppliers to set expectations and address grievances proactively, to guarantee reliability of services and meet operational timelines and deliverables. As a responsible corporate, we are also diligent in ensuring timely payments and meeting contractual obligations.
Details of new strategic partnerships and outcomes of our consistent supplier engagement are discussed in the business line reviews. Further details on our approach to stakeholder engagement, analysis of key stakeholders, and strategies for engaging them are described in the section on Stakeholder Engagement and Materiality.
At the heart of our Group's success is an exceptional team of experienced professionals. As a service-oriented business, our people are critical to delivering value to our stakeholders and achieving our business goals. Managing a workforce based around the globe is a challenge and a boon, as our country offices, subsidiaries, and business units, contribute the strength of their diverse experience, and draw from the foundational strength of Expolanka’s HR policies that are in compliance with global best practices and applicable regulations.
Total number of employees
2022/23 – 3,724
2021/22 – 3,202
Retention rate (%)
2022/23 – 85%
2021/22 – 82%
Recruitments to permanent cadre (Nos.)
2022/23 – 614
2021/22 – 747
Average training hours per employee (Hr.)
2022/23 – 9.8
2021/22 – 6.74
Training investment (Rs. Mn.)
2022/23 – 93
2021/22 – 14
Average turnover rate (%)
2022/23 – 15%
2021/22 – 16%
Geographic Representation – International Offices
Partnerships with tertiary education providers and universities enabled the Group to draw from a reservoir of fresh talent entering the labour market. Upskilling initiatives were organised in a methodical manner to groom new talent and streamline the talent-acquisition process.
To ensure business continuity and improve retention, we formalised knowledge-transfer, introduced rapid induction and training for new entrants, and continued to invest in career path planning and succession planning at a cluster level. Competency development was coupled with performance management bootcamps and Strategic Business Units (SBUs) drafted clear roadmaps for operations, which minimised work disruption.
Our corporate culture, The Expolankian Way, is a dynamic and evolving philosophy that ties together diverse individuals and teams from across the globe, to share a common DNA and passion for the work we do. Our culture is defined by our corporate values, and driven by our people; the success of which is seen in our low turnover rates, high employee engagement, and repeated recertification as a great place to work.
Resignations by country
Resignations by age
|46 and above||47||10|
When competing in a globalised business environment, our competitive edge comes from the innovation, efficiency, and efficacy of our team. Alongside routine and impartial assessment of performance, we incorporate merit-based incentives as part of our remuneration package, which instills a performance-driven culture across our business units and teams. We also routinely review our remuneration policy and strategies in line with changes to the operating environment to ensure we provide fair and competitive remuneration, while attracting and retaining the best talent.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
We strive to create an inclusive workplace across our operations to ensure our diverse team of professionals feel safe, heard, valued, and able to excel in their professional setting. Alongside our commitment to equality and fair remuneration, we are dedicated to maintain a work environment that is free from discrimination or harassment, in line with global best practices, standards and regulations.
Health and Safety (H&S)
Our Group is committed to creating a safe and healthy work environment for our teams. Driven by a comprehensive compliance, health, safety, environment, and security (C&HSES) policy, we are continually improving our standards, internal controls, and compliance measures to identify and manage risks and ensure adherence to regulations. Despite our asset-light, service-focused model, the Group’s presence in the logistics sector dictates stringent H&S protocols within our operations. Where appropriate and feasible, our supplier assessments and due diligence enable us to work alongside our suppliers and partners to achieve better health and safety across the supply-chain.
Learning and development
Expolanka’s value proposition to employees includes a supportive environment that provides necessary training and promotes capacity development. Working in a rapidly evolving operating environment, we believe that continuous development within a culture of learning is a key element that contributes to business success.
We continued to invest in innovative learning initiatives alongside traditional capacity building actions that ensured our teams were equipped with the technical, professional, personal, and inter-personal skills required for our global business model and expansionary efforts. As a globally diversified group, we also continued to offer our employees international and cross-sector training opportunities, where appropriate and feasible.
During the year, we redoubled our focus on strategic leadership development and succession/transition planning. Partnerships with external training institutions and digital platforms enabled us to roll-out a strong leadership development programme that included nominated middle-managers. The programme incorporated a tested self-study pathway that was well-received by employees across our primary business units.
All female employees at Expolanka are entitled to obtain maternity leave in keeping with the guidelines set by the Shop and Office Employees Act. They are given 14 working days leave with full pay, immediately preceding the expected date of confinement. They are also allowed to take the feeding entitlement of one hour after returning from maternity leave.
In the year under review. The retention rate after maternity leave corresponded to 100 percent. Some employees are currently on maternity leave and the remaining employees are still currently employed as of the end sof the financial year.
The Financial Year 2022/23 brought a number of challenges for several of our shared services headquartered in Sri Lanka, resulting in multiple pressures on our employees and HR function. The Country’s ongoing economic crisis led to multiple disruptions to transport and accessibility during the first half of the year, while continued hardships proved to be a push-factor for out-migration, resulting in talent flight from the broader Sri Lankan labour market. In this climate, attracting appropriate talent and retaining skilled cadre proved to be a challenge. The Group’s HR function took a multi-layered approach to address these challenges.
We initiated measures to strengthen our value proposition to employees; reviewing and revising remuneration and work policies to adjust remuneration scales, extend inflationary allowances, and increase work-flexibility to mitigate disruptions to transport. We also proactively worked toward reinforcing the features that make Expolanka a great place to work. Employee engagement included cultural events, inter-company sporting events, and year-end celebrations for employees and their families. Staff wellbeing was prioritised through awareness raising.
Refer the business line reviews for details of HR initiatives during the year, and the success of our people-management strategies.
Further details of our HR policies, codes of conduct, responsible workplace practices, and compliance with labor laws and regulations are outlined in the Supplementary Information in the section on Stakeholder Engagement and Materiality.
The strength of our intangible assets plays a critical role in our success as a renowned global conglomerate operating in a dynamic business backdrop. Our wide-ranging and diverse intellectual capital base consists of long-term assets that are essential to create value over time.
Brand strength and synergies
Expolanka Holdings is a strategic investment vehicle for globally iconic businesses in logistics, leisure, IT, and fresh produce. The Company stands committed to building a value-creating and resilient portfolio in multiple markets, which is essential for growth and success of the Organisation.
The Company’s investment in global business is not just about expanding reach but also fostering a greater understanding of different cultures and ways of doing business, including building shareholder confidence, which is a fundamental objective of the brand. Applying a holistic approach, the Company balances short-term financial results with long-term strategic initiatives, fostering a favourable investment environment and rewarding the trust and confidence of shareholders.
Expolanka aims to allocate a significant portion of its resources to strategic investments while continuing to successfully develop brands within the existing portfolio, such as EFL Global and Classic Travels; both from a business and awareness perspective have obtained significant market share within their industries. By actively seeking investment opportunities, the company aims to diversify its portfolio, foster innovation, and tap into new avenues of revenue generation.
Our most prominent brand, EFL Global, leads the Group’s leading business. EFL has grown from strength to strength, with the brand now recognised as one of the leading air and ocean freight forwarders in the world. Built on the values: Intimate, Flexible, Creative, Conscious, and Future-Ready; EFL represents the Group’s DNA and communicates a strong commitment to its purpose: “Transforming Supply Chains and Growing Businesses”.
The logistics sector consists of key brands such as EFL 3PL, Oki-Doki, and EAM, which continue to gain prominence in local and international markets. The leisure sector businesses consist primarily of the “Classic” brand: recognised as a leading travel company in Sri Lanka. Classic’s brand recognition and exemplary service quality have enabled the Group’s leisure sector to navigate a challenging operating environment and retain market leadership in Sri Lanka’s travel sector. The Investment sector consists of two key brands: Tropikal Life and ITX360. While fairly recent additions to the Expolanka Group portfolio, these brands have continued to gain traction over the last several years.
The Group’s other primary business units and subsidiaries have also carved out unique identities in their industries and areas of business as they expand in scale and reach.
Success of these individual brands is receiving recognition in the form of increased scale of business, industry-leading recognition and accreditation, and technical certifications in their own unique niche. These developments are supporting the attraction of talent and onboarding of top clients in a variety of business verticals.
Innovation and Digital Transformation (DX)
A critical component of the overall strategy, the Group was able to make consistent headway in its digital transformation journey. Our focus on technology as a business enabler is supported by continued investments in process automation and digitalisation of operations. ITX 360 functions as the Group’s consolidated technology service provider, deploying digital infrastructure investment, delivering a suite of services, and enabling custom development that supports specialised operations of our various business units.
IT security remains a key area of focus for the Group’s shared services, as our continued efforts toward digitalisation result in greater dependence on IT systems across all operations. Ensuring business continuity and reliability of systems across the group were priorities during the year. In order to enable our businesses to be agile and responsive in a rapidly evolving operating backdrop, we also continued to invest in optimising enterprise platforms, enhancing collaborative tools, and developing integrated solutions.
Investments in INNOVATION aND DX
|Enterprise systems and solutions||Upgraded enterprise systems for different business units to enhance customer experience, visibility, operational efficiency, workflow standardisation and data integrity. Group rollout of Darwinbox, a seamless platform for Human Resource Management, continued with 14 countries going live with the system by end of year.|
|Cybersecurity and data protection||Implemented a globally synergised programme covering cyber and data security, identity, data, device, and systems. Being a global organisation, we continued to adopt best practices, including achieving ISO 27001 certification and GDPR compliance. Reviewed and revised IT security policies to reflect changes in the operating environment with the goal of strengthening data privacy measures, improving cloud security, and standardising endpoint security across our operations. New Data Protection and Social Media policies were also introduced during the year in this regard.|
|Technology partnerships||Continued engagement with global technology giants enabled enhancement of our technology and data strategy with new and more agile technology solutions.|
|Development||Completed development and testing of a digital freight forwarding suite which includes features such as traceability, online booking, vendor management, and automated customer reporting. Development and implementation of a Compliance Management System to effectively monitor key compliance matters. Ongoing development support to platforms across business lines to enhance solution offerings.|
|Integration||Integration plays an important role in our customer-centric strategy and the organisation entered into a partnership with a global integration technology partner providing the company with the ability to integrate seamlessly with customers, service providers and other partners.|
|Automation||Continued deployment of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions across business units to enhance operational processes and capabilities.|
Refer in our business line reviews for further information on ITX360’s certifications, accreditations, partnerships, and capacity development, which support the Group’s digital transformation and IT strategy.
Investing in our brands
The Group takes a holistic approach to brand development, by aligning its strategies to all key areas of the business, including investor relations, corporate communications, sustainability, and human resource management.
Our commitment to ethical best practices in terms of environmental, social and governance considerations have further added to our brand repute. Continuous investment in programmes such as the EFL Global Goodness initiative and the Sabrina Yusoof Women Empowerment Initiative, among others, have added significant value to our brand standing.
Expolanka also strives to keep a consistent brand approach in all marketing communications, ensuring a cohesive and unified brand identity, which strengthens the brands recognition and positioning among stakeholders.
We have set our sights on investment opportunities and expanding our global footprint as a key strategy to achieve sustained growth and competitiveness in a rapidly evolving business landscape. By proactively investing in diverse sectors and expanding into new markets, the company aims to unlock new revenue streams, foster innovation, and position itself as a global industry leader.
The Group and its business units continued to be recognised in local, regional, and international forums as a best-in-class service provider with our partners, customers, and other awarding organisations. Refer Year Under Review for awards received by the Group during the year.
As a primarily service-driven Group, the analysis and utilisation of up-to-date business information is critical to our operations. Expolanka’s Group-wide knowledge management function ensures we excel in strategic planning and data-driven decision-making. These processes enable our Board and management teams to navigate a dynamic operating environment while pursuing the Group’s growth ambitions.
We prioritise sharing of expertise and market insights across all levels of management, encouraging a mix of organic and structured systems to ensure sharing of institutional knowledge. Our strategic planning sessions also play a pivotal role in this regard.
We also continue to invest in leadership development through training, mentoring, and succession planning-led at Board level. Coupled with Group-wide international exposure and a structured management trainee programme; these are key components of our knowledge management process.
During the year, we scaled up utilisation of digital tools such as MS Sharepoint and MS Teams, to create a more comprehensive repository of our tacit organisational knowledge, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and routine systems and processes. This enabled us to rapidly deploy brief, yet comprehensive, training and induction programmes for new employees.
As an “employer of choice”, we seek to maintain best employee relations across our businesses with open workplace practices. We maintain a continuous dialogue with our employees on any significant operational changes and decisions. Although there is no set notice period regarding the communication of such changes, the management on average give minimum of two-weeks’ notice on any material change to operations.
We are also concerned and are prompt in redressing employee grievances and issues. Our regular staff meetings at the team level as well as at the annual performance management platform, are used effectively to engage all employees. Our HR departments at the line companies have a formal process to address unresolved grievances. Our whistleblower policy also encourages employees to address any violations of their fundamental rights or even expose any wrong-doings under utmost confidentiality. In the reporting year, we did not record any formal grievances nor lawsuits filed related to violations of human rights. The Group did not record any fines or non-monetary sanctions with regard to labour management practices.