Goran Sladic, managing director at Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), a beverage firm in Nigeria, has revealed how the company has thrived for over 70 years in operation, despite the country’s tough business environment that has killed many businesses.
Speaking at the ongoing Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) conference in Abuja, Sladic, said that constantly investing in new capabilities has made NBC to be resilient in the country.
“In the last 10 years, our business invested approximately $1.3 billion mostly in new technologies. And in the next five years, we aim to invest another one billion dollars,” he said.
He said a major part of the company’s investment is going into new technologies and digitisation that has a clear purpose to faster and better serve its customers or consumers and also improve productivity, efficiency and reduce costs.
NBC started production in 1953 at the basement facilities of the mainland Hotel, owned by Leventis Group producing Coke licensed from Coca-Cola Company. The firm owns the Nigerian franchise to market Fanta, Sprite, Schweppes, Ginger Ale, Limca, Krest, Parle Soda and Five Alive.
“A key enabler to adapting to change is the strength and depth of our talent and a big part of our investment is going into talent development,” Sladic said.
He added that the company wants to create a learning and inclusive environment. “I am very proud to say that we recently reached a milestone where more than 40 percent of our leadership positions are being held by females.”
Over the past seven years, several manufacturers, especially in the fast-moving consumer goods industry, have either left the country or stopped production of some of their products as a result of the difficult operating environment.
Problems such as rising interest rates, surging inflationary pressure, and foreign exchange volatility are impacting input costs, operating expenses and the general profitability of businesses in Africa’s biggest economy.
Some of the companies that have exited the country are Surest Foam Limited, Mufex, Framan Industries, MZM Continental, Nipol Industries, Moak Industries and Stone Industries.
In March, Unilever, which started operations in the 1920s, announced that it was stopping the production of its legendary OMO, Sunlight and Lux home and skincare brands in a bid to cut costs so as to concentrate on higher growth opportunities.
GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria also plans to exit the country after 51 years of operations.
“With justification, the chamber is concerned that if the trend persists, the nation’s economic growth potential will not be realized. GlaxoSmithKline’s decision critically reflects on the nation’s poor ranking on the ease of business measures, which the chamber has constantly spoken about,” Chinyere Almona, director-general of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.
According to Dele Oye, national president of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture, the sudden rise in the price of petrol and abolition of the official naira rate has caused a significant backlash, eroding the already earned income and trading capital of several multinational companies that had established their previous earnings based on the official naira rate at the time.
“While the current administration has commendably set Nigeria on a long-term path to economic progression, it has been noted that some of the immediate positive economic policies of President Bola Tinubu have had an adverse effect on certain sectors of the country,” he said.