Otara Gunewardene recognised at the Asia Retail Congress

Otara Gunewardene – Chief Executive Officer of ODEL, Sri Lanka’s premier department store – was awarded the prestigious "Retail Leadership Award" at the recently held Asia Retail Congress in India. The congress – one of Asia’s most renowned platforms to promote world-class retail practices – brings together, at a forum, the company chairs, presidents and CEOs from leading international and national retailers.

The congress is widely reputed to be a stage for those that believe in making a change in the world retail sector. Held in Mumbai, this year’s congress focused on the theme of "Strategies and Solutions for Business Innovation and Transformation". Their decision to bestow the esteemed "Retail Leadership Award" to Sri Lanka’s most prominent and renowned business woman, highlights Ms Gunewardene’s illustrious career in the retail sector, while also recognises the immense growth that ODEL has seen since its inception as a one store operation.

Beginning her career just over 15 years ago, Ms Gunewardene has swiftly become one of the country’s most celebrated business personalities. Her success story in building the ODEL brand as a fashion empire has become an inspirational story for many budding retail entrepreneurs. Throughout her career, she has amassed a number of awards and accolades – including the "Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the Year" award, the "SAARC Woman of Achievement" award, the "Zonta Woman of Achievement" award as well as the title of the Jaycees’ "Most Outstanding Young Person".

Speaking about the award from the Asia Retail Congress 2008, Ms Gunewardene expressed that it was an honour to receive this prestigious award from such an esteemed panel of business personalities. She added, "It is not only a significant achievement for myself, but also to those who have put in so much hard work and dedication to make ODEL not just a fashion brand, but a Sri Lankan icon as well."

Through ODEL, Ms Gunewardene has also championed a number of environmental and charity causes. She has been actively involved in the building of houses for the victims of the Tsunami, the planting of trees and also the cleaning of the Bundala National Park.

Additionally, her personal CSR initiative, - ‘EMBARK’ – is a highly successful series of programmes that aims to control the country’s stray dog population, as well as to prevent cruelty to animals under the stringent guidelines set by the World Health Organisation.


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