A leader in auctioneering in the country, Schokman and Samerawickreme reaches the grand milestone of a century and a quarter.
Words Yomal Senerath-Yapa
Photographs Vishwathan Tharmakulasingham
Schokman and Edwin Samerawickreme first met at the Nuwara Eliya races in the early 1890s. In the midst of equitation and high fashion, a deal that was to flourish and thrive was sealed. The auctioneer company, bearing their names, was set up in the British hill station of Badulla. Schokman, a colonial planter, was soon to leave for the motherland for good, leaving Ceylonese Edwin Samerawickreme alone at the helm. The Samerawickreme family has since then seen the company on its way to become the most reputed auctioneer in Sri Lanka, with an immediately recognisable name.
Today, it’s the third generation who hold the reins of Schokman and Samerawickreme, brothers Navinda and Anuja Samerawickreme. Navinda Samerawickreme, Managing Partner, describes his occupation as ‘out of the ordinary’, something that allows him to meet many different people. Their diverse clientele ranges from businesses to homeowners.
A successful family firm, Schokman and Samerawickreme were also the very first South Asian Pacific company which obtained 9001:2015 certification in auctioning, valuation and real estate brokering.
Through a century and a quarter, ‘S & S’ has won a clear reputation for the transparency in all of their transactions, among their clients. At the vehicle auctions they handle the auctioning of vehicles for UN organisations, diplomatic missions, many financial institutions and banks.
In their airy showroom along Isipathana Mawatha, you will find an array of furniture, with a focus on elegant, carved pieces the likes of which are not produced today. Amidst many auctions the most sensational crowd-pullers are art and rare antiques. Navinda Samerawickreme says there is a great affinity in Colombo for art auctions featuring quaint artefacts, including valuable paintings and ebony pieces.
Schokman and Samerawickreme also conduct valuations in a range of areas from real estate and motor vehicles to machinery. As realtors however they play what could be called a cameo role, handling real estate mostly for banks, embassies and top corporate customers. The reason for this is to provide clients a personalised service, rather than handling a bulk of requests. Their byword is quiet professionalism, and it is a reliable, old-fashioned, tailor-made service that they assure. They have always been a family business, and even within their own staff that united, close-knit nature has been retained.
Navinda Samerawickreme recalls the hallmarks that had contributed for their recognition in the country. “Schokman and Samerawickreme has always rested on the pillars of trust, experience and integrity. When people hear our name they expect something, and they will always get it.”
The chartered auctioneers will celebrate their 125th year this month. They will be hosting a thanksgiving service along with a celebration, while plans are also in progress to introduce online auctioning via their website, shopandselllanka.com where bidding could be done from home. It will be yet another first of its kind in Sri Lanka from a trusted, established and also renowned auctioneer.
290, Havelock Road, Colombo 5
T: (+94 11) 250 2680/ (+94 11) 258 5408
F: (+94 11) 258 8176
63, Isipathana Mawatha, Colombo 5
T: (+94 11) 258 8323
F: (+94 11) 258 4721
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