Lassana Flora

Sri Lanka based floral decorator specializing in wedding decorations.

Lassana Flora (Pvt) Ltd. is a Sri Lanka based floral decorator specializing in wedding decorations. It has three showrooms – at Colombo, Negombo and Kandy – in Sri Lanka only. Lassana Flora (Pvt) Ltd is the brainchild of Dr. Lasantha Malavige and was set up in 1998. Dr. Malavige explains, “When I was a second year medical school, in 1998, I realised the potential of wedding decorations in Sri Lanka. I started with a small shop with a staff of two to cater primarily for wedding floral needs and gradually expanded.”

“We have moved to top slot as the country’s wedding decorator specialists and are market leader in floral arrangements, with cost effective, innovative and elegant designs,” says Dr. Malavige.“Besides our spacious showroom in Colombo, our branches in Kandy and Negombo compliment our presence nationally and cater to a fast growing clientele islandwide. We are the market leaders for hotel wedding decor and service more than 60% of the hotel weddings in Colombo, Kandy and Negombo,” he maintains. However, the company has not yet started exporting to other countries.

Plans for expansion
The company has plans for overseas expansion and is on the lookout for partnerships with Indian flower growers to start joint ventures in Sri Lanka. “We are also looking for flower exporters from India as we are interested in importing some of the flowers not freely available in Sri Lanka,” says Dr. Malavige. “We are looking at companies who are interested in going into joint ventures to grow carnations, chrysanthemums, orchids and roses. We are also looking at companies from India who would like to start joint ventures in India in floral decorations,” he adds. Speaking about the company’s India plans, Dr. Malavoge says, “The company plans to import carnations, chrysanthemums, lilies, baby’s breath and heather from India in future.”

The company is looking at expansion to SAARC countries and is also looking at the UK market.
“We have remained winners of several awards in numerous categories at the annual “Bridal Fair” and other wedding-related fairs in Colombo and now we have plans to expand our range of customised services to foreign markets,” he adds.

Market Potential
Dr. Malavige says, “Floral wedding decor market is huge in Sri Lanka. People always go for creative, unique floral decor at the weddings. Contrary to people living in the West Asian countries, in Sri Lanka we give more importance to wedding decor.” The flowers more popularly used in weddings in Sri Lanka are roses, gerberas, alstromaira, chrysanthemums, lotus and jasmine.

When asked if there any special requirements for flowers to be used for wedding decoration, Mr. Malavige says, “There is no special requirement for flowers used for wedding décor but the fact that weddings are seasonal is something that suppliers and growers should keep in mind. Also most of the wedding these day have a particular colour theme, so we might order big quantities in one particular colour.”

Source of material
The company buys around one million dollar worth of flowers annually maintains Dr. Malavige. Asked if the company bought supplies from India exporters, he says, “Currently we do not buy from any Indian buyer, but certainly we are looking at exporters from India.” When asked about the current annual demand for flowers in Sri lanka, Dr. Malavige sounding a tad uncertain, says, “I do not have proper estimates but I assume flower demand should be more than $50 million annually. Flowers like lilies and chrysanthemums re usually imported as they are not grown in Sri lanka.”

The company sources the flowers through contract farming. “We are now looking at starting our own farms because contract growers do not have the resources for high tech farming. We are looking at partnerships for high tech farming, too,” he says.The company has 82 working full time employess. “Our services cover the whole country. We have more than 50 %market share in upmarket wedding décor,” says Dr. Malavige.

Ordering Facility
Lassana Flora recently launched its newest facility of ordering flowers online and via a telephone hotline. “Given the hectic lifestyles of some of our top-end clients, they can now avail themselves of our services without physically coming over to our showroom. This also includes flower arrangements for offices and corporate events. Wedding stationery is, in fact, another addition to our range of specialised services,” explains Dr. Malavige.

He further says, “In keeping with our commitment for providing quality to our customers, we have introduced freezer trucks which keep flowers fresh during transportation from our stores to the client. This is especially useful when delivering bouquets, “adding, “We also use a special spray to keep flowers fresh for a longer time after being taken out of the cooler,” he said.

The website of the company provides personlised information about Lassana to individual customers. “This website is especially targeted at foreign customers and Sri Lankan expatriates working abroad who wish to have their wedding in Sri Lanka,” says Dr. Malavige. The company also provides services like decorating cake boxes, renting car, making invitation cards and also provide photographer.

Future of Flower Industry
Speaking about the future potential of the flower industry, Dr. Malavige says, “The trend for office flower arrangements, sending flower for special occasions and buying flowers to decorate houses are getting popular day by day. With these the flower requirement has also increasing dramatically.”

Further talking about the obstacles faced by the company in expanding his floral business, Dr. Malavige gripes, “We need quality, reliable suppliers to cater to our increasing demand, and also we need talented young men and women who are willing to take challenges.”

Dr. Malavige is a qualified medical doctor with a knack and skills for floral designing. He is also qualified to practice medicine in the UK. “Currently I am studying for a PhD. My parents and my sister are also in to the business. I have developed this business from very small organization with a staff of just 2 to a strength of 82 in just seven years,” he says, adding optimistically, “We are determined to make our organisation a regional player in next five years.”

Our Correspondent