While the rest of the world gave up on their long-awaited dreams in the face of the pandemic, Ishara Weeraratna, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LUXE Colombo, was among the few that became a dynamic opponent against the despairing situation. Unlike many businesses that watched the pandemic take its course, Luxe was indeed a solid response to the crisis.
Ishara owes his primary education to Mahanama College Colombo and comes from a loving family of four. While being employed overseas as a Software Engineer, working for a company and running his own, he shared that he was mildly involved with the family business of importing authentic European food and distributing it among the local restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets. It was not in his original plan to play a significant role in it any time soon. According to Ishara, travelling around Europe was an eye-opener for the family regarding the scarcity of authentic European food in Sri Lanka, which fueled the original idea behind the venture.
He expresses the vision was to return to Europe and establish himself. Nevertheless, while he was still in the country, the pandemic’s impact on the family business ultimately drove him to abandon the idea. Considering that all of the hotels were closed and potential customers were stuck at home due to the pandemic, the Weeraratna family was facing a possible loss of nearly $15 million unless prompt and timely action was taken..
Ishara changed his plans from moving overseas, to remaining in the country and doing everything he could to keep the family enterprise thriving after seeing his family in misery. It may not have been the initial plan, but it was an essential plan carried out effectively and swiftly during a challenging period. Thus, Ishara, with his tactical planning, perseverance, intelligence, and intuitive graft, became the protagonist of Luxe Colombo’s success.
“The first three months of the initial lockdown, I did deliveries myself”, he shared, recounting the commencement of Luxe. Developing the website himself and entering the market as an individual entity when no other customer base existed for their products, Ishara is humbly proud of where his company now stands. One of the most challenging and compelling difficulties he had during the period, from his perspective, was locating people who would be worthy complements to his well-planned approach. As he precisely stated, any solid plan can backfire if the right squad isn’t given a chance to execute it. He conveys having to oversee things by himself for quite a while throughout to ensure the procedure functioned successfully.
The company currently employs new staff including chefs specializing in various cuisines and has expanded its horizons to include European, Korean, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, and Italian cuisines. Ishara says that his family trusted him with the task of taking the family owned business to new heights. The ability to come up with new plans, policies, options, and changes without the interference of another party has accelerated the growth of LUXE Colombo, and the timely decisions taken when necessary without delay have played a vital role in reaching the heights it now has, in such a short and challenging period.
While some other delivery options constantly disappointed customers given the catastrophic situation, LUXE took measures to receive their orders on many different platforms and deliver them within the given time frame, leaving no room for disappointment. According to Ishara, their customers keep returning for the unparalleled authenticity and customer service that Luxe Colombo has to offer.
Ishara believes that society must adjust as long as the pandemic exists. It is unlikely to remain in place indefinitely, but it cannot be anticipated to go very soon. He claims that whoever adapts to the situation the fastest is likely to win the race. Unfortunately, Ishara began at the most inconvenient and chaotic time possible, in the midst of a pandemic and when it was his only option. After learning the hard way, he advises one to begin right now, with whatever they have. “Begin with what you already have. Don’t put it off till the proper time”, he stated.
“We began as an online outlet. We’ve opened a few branches and want to expand more,” Ishara explained, going into depth about his intentions for the next two years. They not only serve a wide range of traditional cuisine, but they also allow consumers to stroll in and participate in ‘cheese tasting’ at their locations. Luxe has already launched an Italian restaurant which will be open to the public in due course. Via Torino only uses authentic gourmet Italian produce imported directly from Italy and with its own in-house Italian chef , customers are guaranteed to have the authentic Italian experience once they walk through its doors. Luxe is undoubtedly the game-changer needed to turn the tables and promote authenticity.
Although Luxe currently specializes in European products, it hopes to expand its course to include other products and cuisines as well, while sticking to its ethos of authenticity. The company plans on expanding to different cultures, and different products to supermarkets and restaurants. At the same time, they cling to their ideals of originality, which has their trusted customer base forever eager to fill themselves with the quality products that Luxe supplies.
Proving that a sudden change of plan may result in a revolutionizing story one can humbly reveal to the rest of the world, Ishara stands successful in the dire efforts he once had to put on his own, as well as the thousand challenges he had to paddle through within a limited span of about six months.
Ishara’s story is available on paperback; Racing against the pandemic. An easy to read book and guide offering insightful tips on how the protagonist started a business from ground zero and took it to new heights. The book consists of valuable and timeless advice from building a business starting from scratch, to making it sustainable, scaling the process to achieve higher goals and the importance of customer satisfaction as well as tips on achieving it. His unmatched effort into creating one of Colombo’s outstanding online ventures has thus come out as his debut publication, offering light and guidance to anyone who could benefit from his experience.