Back in 1892, in a town located in the highlands of British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Schokman, a tea planter by profession, introduced the concept of auctions to the island. When he was not tending the vast tea plantations under his care, Schokman would auction furniture belonging to his friends and colleagues who were leaving the shores of Ceylon to return home. Discovering that he had a passion for the activity, Schokman formalized the operation by setting up a small auctioning house named Schokman & Co.
Not long after, while attending the horse races at the Ceylon Turf Club, Schokman met Edwin Samerawickreme, who was a Sales Manager at Tuckers/Millers. Striking a firm friendship, the two men discovered they both had a shared passion for auctioneering and decided to go into business together. This friendship and joint passion were the foundations of Schokman and Samerawickreme, pioneer Chartered Auctioneers in Sri Lanka, since the year 1892.
When Schokman passed away some years later, his friend and business partner Edwin Samerawickreme decided to continue on his own and preserve the name Schokman and Samerawickreme. The firm’s head office was moved to the city of Kandy, and Edwin’s older sons — Lloyd and Derrick — joined their father in business, learning the ropes before his demise in 1956. The brothers soon realized the potential in expanding the auctioneering business to the city of Colombo, which was fast establishing itself as the commercial hub of the island. After setting up an office in Colombo, Schokman and Samerawickreme began expanding its operations throughout the island.
The younger Samerawickreme brothers, Carl and Shirley joined the family business in 1958, and the firm continued to grow and establish its name as the foremost expert auctioneer in Sri Lanka. Shirley, in particular, had a special knack for auctioneering, soon becoming a master of the trade. His vision for the company and dedication to his profession resulted in Schokman and Samerawickreme becoming the most reputed auctioneer and valuer in the country. Derrick migrated to London in 1970 and Lloyd passed away in 1988, leaving the firm in the capable hands of their younger siblings.
Shirley’s older son Navinda joined the business in 1990, bringing the third generation of Samerawickreme’s into the field of auctioneering. Carl passed away in 1995, leaving the running of the firm to Shirley and Navinda, who were eventually joined by Shirley’s younger son Anuja in the year 2000.
In 1997, Schokman and Samerawickreme opened its first showroom in Colombo, providing a space for customers to conveniently view items. The next year, in 1998, the company established a subsidiary — Mister Move (Private) Limited — a transport company, which complimented the core business.
When Shirley passed away in 2009, having served the company for an impressive 50 years, his sons took over the mantle of leadership in the family business. They injected a whole new vigour into the organization, working to bring the historic company into the modern world.
Navinda and Anuja had the privilege of learning the trade under the watchful eye of the maestro, their father, and this helped them to further establish the company as the expert in the fields of Furniture and Vehicle Auctions, Real Estate Brokering and Valuations.
They also set up partnerships with internationally renowned Real Estate Companies, Cushman & Wakefield and Savills of Australia, and also succeeded in applying for and receiving the ISO 9001:2015 certification for Auctioning, Valuation and Real Estate Brokering. This certification makes Schokman and Samerawickreme the first company in the South Asia Pacific region to have obtained an ISO certification in the field of Auctioning and Real Estate Brokering.
The company began operating its own vehicle yard in 2012, and also extended the office in Kandy to include a showroom. Having celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2017, the company embarked on a mission to revolutionize Sri Lankan auctions by introducing Digital Auctions in 2020.
In 2014, Schokman and Samerawickreme undertook the auction sale of the painting ‘Little Bambino’ (1934) by renowned artist David Paynter. This was a significant event, as it still is the highest selling painting at an auction held in Sri Lanka.
The passion for auctioneering that drove Edwin Samerawickreme to establish the company over a century ago has passed down the generations to his sons and grandsons. Years of knowledge and expertise in the field, coupled with an enduring sense of integrity, commitment and professionalism, have strengthened the company, so that it remains at the top of its game today and for years to come.
Navinda began his career in auctioneering by joining the family business in 1990. His entry into Schokman and Samerawickreme marked the business passing down to the third generation of the Samerawickreme family, carrying on the legacy which began back in 1892. Navinda completed his education at Trinity College Kandy prior to learning the trade of auctioneering under the watchful eye of his father, Shirley, who had become a master auctioneer at the time.
Taking on the reigns of the business after his father’s passing, Navinda’s vision and perseverance has seen the 129 year old company transform and move into the digital age. A master Auctioneer and Valuer himself, Navinda is also a committed social worker and has been conferred the Melvin Jones Fellow by the Lions Clubs International. In addition to functioning as Managing Partner of Schokman and Samerawickreme, Navinda is also the Managing Director of Mr. Move, a subsidiary of the parent company.
Anuja entered the family business in 1999 after completing his education at Trinity College Kandy. Joining older brother Navinda, Anuja honed his auctioneering skills under the tutelage of their father Shirley Samerawickreme. Today, he is recognized in Sri Lanka as a master Auctioneer and Valuer and is in charge of overall operations at Schokman and Samerawickreme.
His commitment to the Samerawickreme family legacy has seen Anuja dedicate over two decades of his life to strengthen and grow the company to what it is today. He currently functions as a Director of Mr. Move, in addition to his role as CEO of Schokman and Samerawickreme.
This entitles us to be the first Company in South Asia Pacific to have obtained ISO certification in the field of Auctioning & Real Estate Brokering in South Asia Pacific. The company which originated in Kandy is now an internationally recognized name. At present we have tied up with internationally renowned Real Estate companies such as Savills Australia and Cushman & Wakefield. Owned and managed by the Samerawickreme family, Schokman & Samerawickreme is committed to maintaining the highest levels of professionalism, ethics and confidentiality throughout its business process, a commitment that will be honoured by the future generations of Samerawickreme’s.