Nienhuis announces Sri Lanka facility as its headquarters, embarks on long march


by Sanath Nanayakkare

Nienhuis Asia Pvt.Ltd. a global company which designs and develops innovative materials for early childhood education announced last week that its state-of-the-art facility in Sri Lanka would be recognized as the Company’s head office, taking precedence over its offices in the Netherlands and the USA.

Marking the 20th anniversary of BOI approved Nienhuis’ operations in Sri Lanka and announcing the Company’s long march, Henk Fokke, CEO/Owner- Heutink Group (Heutink and Nienhuis) said so where Chief Guest of the event , Netherlands Ambassador- Mevrouw Joanne Doornewaard and senior officials of the BOI were also present.  

The Nienhuis Asia facility in Kiriberiya, Panadura, Sri Lanka is an investment of 3.5 million Euros. The facility has fixed asset-value of two million Euros along with an inventory value of another two million Euros. Its annual turnover currently stands at 3.5 million Euros while its sales are projected to increase by 5-6 times in a few years, given the potential growth for Nienhuis products in Eastern Europe, China and Latin America.

Nienhuis Sri Lanka facility’s manufacturing process includes product planning too. All this work is executed by about 150 trained and skilled Sri Lankan personnel most of whom are from the nearby villages and towns. Speaking further Henk Fokke said, "A lot of money has been invested to set up this factory, but it is worth every dollar. Every year, we made it a point that one or two new machines were installed to boost productivity through automation. Twenty years on, revisiting Nienhuis history in Sri Lanka has been one full of good feelings and renewed energy"

Olof De Weerch, Managing Director, Nienhuis Asia speaking at the event said, "We started in Sri Lanka as a very small company and have grown up to this stage. Today we produce all the articles at this Panadura facility for our global orders and has positioned it as a fully standalone company. It’s quite an achievement".

Responding to a question from The Island Financial Review, Olof said it would be great if doing business in Sri Lanka was made easier. When asked how it could be done, Olof said," Easing the hassles with the Inland Revenue Department and import duty procedures would be welcome". Speaking about the Sri Lankan workforce Olof said," We are very happy about their talent and commitment to responsibility. Sri Lankan workforce picks things up quite fast".

Daniel de Jonge – Heutink International, Commercial Director addressing the gathering said:

"Today, we export high quality premium brands to 80 countries. Early childhood education in Europe, China and Latin America shows nice growth which will have immense sales potential for our articles. We started to export to China this year. By next year, we will be able to increase our sales by 5-6 times. We discussed these new possibilities yesterday. Investments are there. People are there with leadership skills and the motivation to take responsibility and meet the potential targets. Equally importantly, we believe that when people work for us for 4-5 years, they should have upward mobility in their career".

Lasitha Sanjeewa, Procurement Manager Nienhuis said," Nienhuis Montessori is one of the brands produced by Heutink International. Heutink International provides the very best global educational brands, which are geared towards learning through play. The materials we use here are based on internationally proven curricula and learning goals, meaning that our products are always of the highest quality and are geared towards the needs and wishes of our customers".

"I joined this Company 20 years ago as a machine operator and today I am the Procurement Manager fulfilling a wide range of responsibilities. With Nienhuis, any employee can climb up the career ladder as he or she wishes if they are willing to work smart", Lasitha added.

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