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Gnanarajah Shines in Sports Garments

Gnanarajah Shines in Sports Garments
Owner of Tau Sports Limited and Sri Lankan Express Restaurant, Awadei Veeriah Gnanarajah. Photo: Payal Sharma
October 07
11:00 2017

Awadei Veeriah Gnanarajah did not originally plan on making Fiji his home, when he came here in 1999 to be a quality control manager for a local garment factory,

He left his home country of Sri Lanka for better oppor­tunities in the garment industry; an industry which is very much part of his life.

Eighteen years later, he is now the managing director and owner of Sri Lankan Express Restaurant and Tau Sports Limited.

Mr Gnanarajah, more affectionately known as Rajah, established Tau Sports Ltd in 2010.

Tau Sports is a sportswear manufacturer and distributor catering for community sporting needs and corporate wear.

The Sri Lankan Express Restaurant, at FNPF Plaza in Suva, opened in February earlier this year.

Since his family traded in the garment business, Mr Gna­narajah’s father became the inspiration for getting into the garment industry.

This gave him that liberty to explore it further.

He recently spoke with Fiji Sun Business about his suc­cess.

ONE ON ONE WITH AWADEI VEERIAH GNANARAJAH

Why a sports store?

I am a sportsman and I have keen interest in various sport­ing activities. I did a lot of things in sports in Sri Lanka. I also wanted to invest into something that I am interested in so I chose sports.

The name of the company, ‘Tau’, originated from the idea of promoting Fijian brand, since Tau means friend in iTaukei.

The company now has five stores around Fiji and contin­ues to expand.

Why did you choose to invest in Fiji?

I fell in love with Fiji the first time I got here. When I be­came a citizen in 2010, I made up my mind that Fiji was in need of its own unique sporting brand, as this is predomi­nantly sporting country.

This is how I had the urge to start up this business as I wanted to offer something that was uniquely Fijian. Whatever I had earned from working here in Fiji, I wanted to invest back into the economy.

I am proud to be producing Fijian-made products, through this. We are able to employ more locals and help the coun­try move forward.

What was your initial investment then and now?

I started my business with only $25,000 which was quite a small scale. After my first store I invested $50,000 to grow further.

Today my investment is more than $2 million. At the ini­tial stage I only had one printing machine and now I have 14 of them.

As per my restaurant opening, I invested $250,000 to bring in a classic restaurant in the market with high standards and expert chefs from Sri Lanka and India.

What are some of your achievements?

I started my business with six employees and now I have over 100 people working in collective outlets for Tau Sports.

I want to promote Fijian-made products to fully support Fijian made initiative by the Government.

I have outlets in PNG and Samoa now.

I am also exporting my products to America, Australia and all the Pacific countries.

My exports are 70 per cent.

I have involved myself into lots of charities and with my ability to provide quality products on time. I am now sup­plying school uniforms and sports uniform to 72 schools.

This year I have invested into another business which is the Sri Lankan Express Restaurant to provide Fijians with another unique taste of food.

How did it fee to setup the business?

It was very difficult for me to set up a business here. The reason being that there was already lot of competition in the market and I was new to this economy.

Finance was also one obstacle that I managed to overcome with time. Marketing my business was another.

The brand was also new to the market so I had to go and inform people about my new business and try to get orders from clients. Some people were scared to buy things from us as we were fresh in the market.

What are your future plans?

I want to upgrade my technology that we use to produce our products. I want to have high-tech machine printers which can use less ink with greater printing speed.

I currently have the advanced printers; however I am plan­ning to invest into an upgrade to provide better products and services to my clients.

My plan for the restaurant moving it up the ladder.

I will be opening another restaurant at Suva Central Building soon.

Feedback: payal.sharma@fijisun.com.fj

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