Coats to meet consumer demands through innovation

Friday, 1 November 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Sarah Hannan Coats is one brand that needs no introduction to us Sri Lankans as it has become a household name when it comes to thread, yarn and zips to name a few products. During his visit to Sri Lanka to take part in this year’s Sri Lanka Design Festival (SLDF), Coats PLC Global CEO Paul Forman joined in for an exclusive interview with the Daily FT to share his insights on the steps that Coats as a company has taken to support supply chains in a sustainable manner. Q: What are the challenges Coats PLC has faced in Sri Lanka and how has the company addressed these challenges? A: This is my second visit to Sri Lanka since my appointment in 2009. Comparing the progress the factory has made since my first visit in 2011 there has been significant development within the company. Our customers in Sri Lanka are very demanding and we have to constantly innovate to match their requirements. I feel that our factory and the business in Sri Lanka can be used as a springboard to address the global needs. We need to align our resources to support the demands of the consumer and supplier chain. On the other hand Sri Lankans are receptive to innovations and we have observed quite a difference in the way we interact with them. As a result, this has reinforced my view to focus on the laboratory that would be implemented in the coming months. Q: What are the safety measures Coats has put in place to make the work environment a favourable and more sustainable one for its employees and the surroundings? A: We are in the process of implementing a ‘Global Supplier Code of Conduct’ in all our business premises as red cards are being raised over this issue globally. The code will focus on key aspects as the use of child labour and unsafe factory environments. At present, this is tested in Bangladesh in the wake of the ‘Rana Plaza’ incident which occurred a few months ago. Coats’ factory in Horana is the only guilt free factory that considers the restriction of using harmful chemicals in the plant. Coats in the community Since 2011, Coats Sri Lanka has been working with the Academy of Design (AOD) to support and promote local apparel, craft and design. Traditional lace-making in southern Sri Lanka The traditional lace-making community in southern Sri Lanka has long been in need of revival.  In 2011, Coats donates thread to several artisans to help rekindle the dying craft of pillow-lace or handmade ‘Beeralu’ lace. Hand-woven textiles in Divulapitiya village Coats Sri Lanka has also been supporting artisans in the hand-woven textile industry in Divulapitiya. The Divulapitiya village has a unique cottage industry. While textile weavers across the island use traditional cotton yarn to make fabrics, the artisans in this village use regular machine sewing thread for weaving. Coats in the environment Coats, recognises that the climate is changing and as a significant energy user they have a role to play in reducing their contribution to it. As a company Coats, has made good progress over the past 12 years and continues to drive down their energy consumption and reduce emissions from their business.