Midaya Ceramics shines with exports to UK stores

Wednesday, 22 December 2010 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Success comes in unexpected shapes, sizes, forms and colours. For Midaya Ceramics, success has definitely come in a kaleidoscope of beautiful and practical designs.

Midaya is the oldest ceramic factory in Sri Lanka. The company was founded in 1968 by Dayasiri Warnakulasuriya with four employees in a small shack and a wood-fired kiln made from hand-pressed clay. Dayasiri had just returned after seven years of training in Japan.

The company quickly took off and achieved great success exporting low cost goods to Japan and the USA. However, the rise of arch competitor – China – meant that in recent years the company has had to adjust its strategy.

Today, along with increased efficiency measures, it produces higher quality, higher cost goods, for smaller but well-defined target markets such as the UK, one of its oldest and best customers.

An estimated 65% of all the high quality goods Midaya produces are commissioned by designers and retailers in the UK. Midaya’s customers range from popular department stores like Marks & Spencer and Matalan to top end outlets such as Harrods and Heals.

Midaya’s current success as exporters is built not only on its reputation for quality but also its capacity to move with the times, adapt to changing tastes and react quickly to market demand. It can service large order customers such as UK department store John Lewis, for which they supply bathroom accessories, as well as customers requiring short runs of limited edition, hand-painted items such as figurines or commemorative ware.

Midaya is the only exporter in Sri Lanka able to run lines in a variety of ceramic finishes such as dolomite, porcelain, terracotta, earthenware and stoneware. Staying flexible and customer-orientated is obviously a hallmark of this operation.

Midaya not only supplies to international markets but also to iconic brands in Sri Lanka. For example, the traditional Sri Lankan mask ceramic spoon design, designed by Dayasiri Warnakulasooriya, is one of Paradise Road’s best selling lines.

A visit Midaya’s factory site in Pannipitiya will showcase the ceramic production process from start to finish. It begins in the storehouse and ends at the packing bays, making stops at the design studio, technical bays and kilns along the way.

It’s a complicated process – made longer by the drive for the exact colour of paint, the perfectly executed decoration, the unwaveringly smooth glaze and everything else that defines a Midaya creation.

Managing Director Anura Warnakulasooriya, believes that Midaya has a good partnership with designers and retailers in the UK because each party appreciates the principle of quality and recognises that it must come at a fair price.

If you want to see how this Sri Lankan factory is successfully collaborating with the UK home ware designer, Susie Watson, there is a film on her website showing how all her company ceramics are made at the Pannipitiya site.

You could access this video at http://www.susiewatsondesigns.co.uk/how-we-make-it/pottery_4.