Aitken Spence Aitken Spence
  Our core interests in the services industry as a leader have manoeuvred us into strategic alliances and creditable performances.
Our Heritage
Aitken Spence PLC. was originally named Clark Spence & Company and commenced business activities in 1868 in Galle. Following its appointment in 1876 as an agent for Lloyds of London, the company obtained agencies for a number of international shipping firms. During the 1920s and 30s Aitken Spence reduced trading due to the adverse effects of the depression and intensified its interests in shipping and insurance where it soon became a leading player in the field. Around this time the company also became an agency house for plantation companies. An indicator of the firms growing prosperity was its move to the heart of Colombo’s commercial district – Fort, where it purchased the building owned by Freudenberg and renamed it “Lloyd’s Building”, which was subsequently sold in the 1950s.

Following the advent of the island’s independence in 1948 (and the end of the Second World War) the firm was transformed into a private limited company. Under the guidance of its first ever Sri Lankan Chairman E.L. Van Langenberg, Aitken Spence diversified into other areas of business as diverse as industrial printing, light engineering and travel obtaining IATA membership.

In 1971, Aitken Spence became a wholly Sri Lankan owned business venture. Further diversification followed hard on the heels of the nationalization of industries in the early 1970s into areas of business hitherto unexplored by the company. These included freight forwarding, garment manufacture and most importantly tourism, industries which directly or indirectly contributed towards the country’s foreign exchange earnings and offered new employment opportunities.

During the period of economic liberalisation the company was converted to a public listed company in 1983, with an issued share capital of Rs. 51 million.  Tourism remains a mainstay of the company’s business to this day and is epitomised by two remarkable hotels, among others built by the company. The Kandalama Hotel is noted for its ecologically conscious outlook – a fact that was underlined when the hotel achieved the prestigious “Green Globe 21” certification in 1999, and The Tea Factory located at Kandapola on the outskirts of Nuwara Eliya. The latter is an old tea factory that was ingeniously converted into a theme hotel and stands out distinctively in Sri Lanka’s hospitality industry. The Group’s investment in hotels and tourism has expanded beyond the shores of Sri Lanka to the Maldive Islands.
With the liberalisation of the insurance industry Aitken Spence returned to this sector with a substantial stake in Union Assurance Ltd., which has rapidly become one of the market leaders in the Sri Lankan insurance industry.

Following the development of the Colombo Port, Aitken Spence has rapidly claimed its stake as a front runner in inland container operations, integrated warehousing, shipping and freight forwarding, the core of the Group’s cargo logistics sector today.

In response to the government’s privatisation programme the company re-entered the plantation business with strategic investments in two of the privatised regional plantation companies. Further the company took the opportunity to venture into infrastructure development, operating three power plants in Horana, Matara and Embilipitiya with a contribution of 140Mw to the national electricity supply.

As the company goes from strength to strength in all aspects of its business operations – helped in no small measure by the astute guiding hands of those who direct the company’s fortunes and the employees whose concentrated efforts have made Aitken Spence what it is today.