MAS Holdings: Strategic
Corporate Social Responsibility
in the Apparel Industry
This case was written by Noshua Watson, INSEAD Ph.D. Candidate in Strategy, under the supervision of Jonathan
Story, Professor of International Political Econom y at INSEAD and Shell Fellow of Economic Transformation as a
basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective o r ineffective handling of an administrative
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Standing on the 10th floor terrace o f his corporate headquarters, Mahesh
Amalean, the Chairman of MAS Holdings, looked out across the dense, leafy
expanse of central Colombo and the grey, rolling Indian Ocean. As he chatted
with his visitors, he could barely be heard over the noise of political
demonstrators marching in the streets around the building. In the summer of
2005, a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil separatists
was still tenuously in effect.
The separatist war between the majority Sinhala government and the Tamil
rebels, who claimed an independent homeland in the north and east of the
country, had cost more than 60,000 lives. Despite more than 20 years of serious
civil unrest, Mahesh and his younger brothers, Ajay and Sharad, had built a
US$570 million intimate apparel business. His clients were the biggest brands in
lingerie and sportswear: Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Inc., Nike, Marks and Spencer,
Speedo and Triumph.
The textile industry made up almost half of all exports in Sri Lanka. To take
advantage of quotas into the US and European markets, MAS had set up 11
plants in other countries. Then, on January 1, 2005, the trade agreement that
set textile quotas expired.
Within six months, the ‘Bra Wars’ 1 had begun. China was already exporting
US$33.9 billion in textiles and clothing each...