Echelon Studio

Timex Garments Poised for Rapid Transformation

Chief Executive Prasad Edirisinghe discusses reimagining Timex Garments

Timex Garments Poised for Rapid Transformation

Prasad Edirisinghe - Chief Executive of Timex Garments

Prasad Edirisinghe, Chief Executive of Timex Garments, offers insights into his career journey, the evolving landscape of the apparel industry, and his vision for driving transformation at Timex in this interview. With a background as a former airline pilot, Edirisinghe has cultivated an extensive career leading transformative changes in Sri Lanka’s prominent apparel industries, both domestically and internationally. His experience at McKinsey further refined his skills and broadened his perspectives.

“Throughout this journey, my family, particularly my wife, provided unwavering support, enabling me to pursue my professional goals while balancing familial responsibilities,” says Edirisinghe. “Driven by passion and personal discipline, I have always set ambitious goals for myself, guided by a commitment to continuous improvement and professional growth. This proactive approach has been instrumental in shaping my career trajectory and achieving success across various endeavours,” he notes. Here are excerpts from the interview:

With your extensive experience in the industry, what key trends do you see shaping the future of garment manufacturing?

In Sri Lanka’s garment manufacturing industry, several key factors shape our operations. Firstly, innovation and technology are crucial. Despite our industry’s history, neighbouring countries have outpaced us in revenue. Therefore, investing in innovation and technology is imperative to stay competitive, especially given our relatively low population density and employment rates.

Secondly, sustainability has become increasingly important, particularly to the younger generation. Embracing sustainable practices is essential for our industry’s growth, as it opens up new markets and opportunities.

Additionally, automation, particularly in areas like AI and digital transformation, is vital for enhancing efficiency and productivity, thereby strengthening our industry.

Furthermore, we must consider the global economic landscape. Our industry is heavily influenced by the market size and stability of regions such as the US and Europe. Fluctuations in their economic conditions directly impact our operations in Sri Lanka.

Lastly, the local economic climate, including government policies, infrastructure development, and consumer spending patterns, significantly affects our industry’s growth and prosperity. Navigating these dynamics effectively is essential for ensuring the sustainable development of our industry.

What will be your priorities as the new CEO of Timex Garments?

We’re currently undergoing a rapid transition from a family-owned enterprise to a professionally managed global company, marking a significant organizational shift. Fortunately, we have a talented team on board, each contributing their unique expertise and innovative ideas. Our focus extends beyond mere automation; we’re actively revolutionizing our manufacturing and service capabilities through a multifaceted approach to drive progress forward. Our ultimate goal is crystal clear: to become the leading global provider of fashion manufacturing solutions for our partners.

This transformation isn’t your typical change process; it resembles a rapid, Formula One-style transformation. In today’s fast-paced world, every minute counts, and delays can incur substantial costs. Given the labour-intensive nature of our business, maintaining high levels of stamina and energy among our team members is paramount to our success.

The performance of our organization is directly linked to the energy and stamina levels of our team. Consistently being fit for the job, demonstrated every day, is essential. Additionally, our corporate leaders must embody the qualities of corporate athletes, consistently delivering their best performance. In a fiercely competitive global market where dynamism is the norm, energy becomes a critical asset in overcoming challenges.

Ultimately, it’s the energy and dedication of our team members that propel our success. Ensuring they remain happy and energized enables us to effectively pursue our goals.

How do you plan to engage with various stakeholders, including employees, customers, and investors?

Let’s delve into what I like to call the three Cs: country, company, and customers.

Firstly, let’s consider the country. Economic stability is crucial for our industry’s global competitiveness. However, we are currently facing uncertainties regarding our economic future. Securing duty-free benefits, such as through GSP or US arrangements, is essential to maintain our industry’s growth trajectory.

Moving on to the company, our internal and external customers are of utmost importance. Internally, retaining talent poses a significant challenge, particularly with enticing opportunities abroad. We must address this brain drain to ensure sustained growth. Externally, innovation and technology are indispensable. However, our startup ecosystem is underdeveloped, leading to costly imports. Moreover, attracting and retaining a skilled workforce, especially women, is becoming increasingly challenging.

Lastly, our industry heavily relies on human capital and innovation, as we lack natural resources like cotton or polyester. With rising energy costs, sustainability and renewable energy initiatives are imperative. Collaborating as a nation to retain talent and resources is crucial. Immediate action is necessary to maintain our global market position and uphold the billions of dollars our industry contributes to the country’s economy.