Founded in 1964 by Sri Lankan entrepreneur and press tycoon Mr. Esmond Wickremesinghe, Sithara Limited was built to address the demand for printing inks to service the local print publication companies in Sri Lanka.
During the first few years of operation, the company focused on producing and perfecting a limited variety of inks such as rotary news black and coloured inks for newspaper printing, gravure inks for cellophane printing and letterpress inks based on rubber seed oil. However, with import liberalization in Sri Lanka in 1977, opportunities opened up for Sithara to gain international exposure and industry acumen, progressing to compete in a niche market both locally and on a regional scale.
With a vision to be on par with their international counterparts, Mr. Wickremesinghe worked on a Technology Transfer Agreement in 1982/83 with Sun Chemicals, the world’s leader in printing inks, and other equally significant overseas training programmes for his employees. This investment gave Sithara insight into Western technologies, raw materials, basic ink formulations, testing methods, production methods and equipment, accelerating our manufacturing process with technological advancements.
The company continued its steady growth by moving to a new factory in Ratmalana, Sri Lanka in 1989, while also purchasing a Buhler TRM machine to increase offset ink capacity. This enabled us to obtain ‘pioneer’ status from the Ministry of Industries of Sri Lanka.
The commitment of the team and the perseverance of the Management paid off during the 1990s, when Sithara obtained aid from the United States to upgrade technology and laboratory facilities, along with the services of two consultants. The consultants shared their knowledge and expertise in paste inks, varnishes, liquid inks, printing and packaging. More aid followed for machinery and overseas training for employees, which the company fully optimized. We were then able to develop and commercialize numerous products such as sheet fed offset inks, high quality, quick set offset inks based on imported varnishes, while also developing similar varnish formulations locally.
At this point, our focus shifted to conducting our own research and advanced experimentation, setting up a Research & Development Unit within the company in 1996. The company also introduced new workflow systems across the entire operation during this time.
Separating technical and administration functions, we developed and commercialized various novel products such as surface printing inks, high colour and high gloss water based inks, high heat resistant inks, among others.
We perfected our process, and focused on up-skilling our employees, inspiring and motivating them to produce the best quality products in accordance with international quality and safety standards.
Today, Sithara Limited is the leading printing ink manufacturing company in Sri Lanka. We have invested in bleeding edge technologies and modern testing equipment. With such rapid and large-scale investment in the company, we have been able to increase production batch sizes to a maximum of 300kgs for liquid inks and up to 150 kgs for paste inks. We plan to continue to serve our founders vision of becoming a brand with a strong regional presence, remaining in the forefront of printing ink manufacturing in Sri Lanka.