• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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We plan to grow our revenue by 48% this year – Musa

We plan to grow our revenue by 48% this year – Musa

Joseph Musa is managing director, Vitavisco Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Vitafoam Nigeria Plc. The chemical engineer speaks on a range of issues affecting manufacturers, the company’s growth outlook for 2024 and how Vitavisco can contribute to efforts in increasing Nigeria’s foreign exchange (FX) inflow, writes Iheanyi Nwachukwu.

Can you provide an overview of the current state of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria, including the challenges faced?

There are three critical elements that can drive or slow the manufacturing sector in Nigeria, depending on how they are managed by the government.

These are energy supply and pricing, forex availability, and taxation. As we speak, public power supply is about its lowest level ever across the country. Diesel, which the industries rely largely on to power the plants have crossed the N1,300 per litre.

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Last week, we were reviewing our energy use for the four months of current versus previous year, and discovered that we have doubled our consumption in Naira amounts (about 100 percent increase) in the current year against previous year.

As scarcity of forex lingers, and because the manufacturing sector depends largely on dollars to import raw materials, many manufacturing concerns are beginning to shut down.

Some have started selling off the little raw materials they have and are laying off staff. They would rather buy dollars to keep than to keep producing at a loss because price increases are currently not keeping up with overall daily increases in manufacturing cost.

For those still running the plants, volumes have dropped. This is ultimately leading to scarcity of manufactured goods in the market. Honestly, the outlook is not looking good at present. Multiple taxation is still a challenge – federal, state, local government and local councils all impose one form of tax or the other. Economy cannot grow by excessively taxing the few operators to death.

Sustainable growth will come only through continuously improving productivity. The government should rather pursue both widening and deepening the productive net instead of fixation on excessive and business disenabling taxation.

These and more are the challenges we are also facing in Vitavisco. But we remain positive, and continue to nurture creativity and drive innovation which factors have been key to our successes.

How do these products contribute to the Federal Government’s efforts to increase foreign exchange inflow?

In the medium term, the company would not be in a position to generate foreign exchange. However, in the long run the company will build capacity to play internationally and earn foreign exchange, especially if AfCFTA (Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement) is actualised and does not remain only in the agreement books.

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What is the company’s outlook for 2024 in terms of growth, expansion, and strategic objectives?

We have planned a 48 percent topline growth for the year and a 105 percent growth in bottom-line versus previous year. Strategically, we are expanding our shoe sole business by investing in a new plant that will increase plant capacity from 2000 pairs of soles per day to 10,000 pairs of soles per day.

What efforts has Vitavisco made to expand its market and make its products more affordable to attract increased patronage and boost revenue?

Investment in people and technology! The company’s continuous efforts in investing in her people and technology have contributed to her market growth. Partnership with customers: In addition, because most of our products are b2b, where our products are input materials to some other organisation’s processes, we place emphasis on ‘partnering with our customers’.

Partnership with suppliers: Because of the unique products we offer the market, we work with our suppliers in developing most of our products. Both the company and suppliers are therefore committed to one another as a result. We are therefore able to ensure continuous availability of raw materials and manufacture goods at affordable prices.

Can you provide specific examples of innovative efforts by Vitavisco to distinguish itself in the market and stay ahead of the competition?

We pride ourselves as a creative and an innovative organisation. That is why there is no organisation in Nigeria today offering our types of products in the various market segments where we play. A couple of organisations are currently trying to copy what we are doing but you cannot beat an original idea.

We will continue to be ahead of the pack. For example, we remain the only company offering molded polyurethane foam products for applications in furniture, physiotherapy, and healthy sleep.

We introduced foamed plastic for various applications in packaging, construction and thermal insulation needs in the country. More recently we expanded our products into the footwear value chain where we manufacture and supply polyurethane base shoe soles to footwear makers.

How is Vitavisco navigating the challenges in the manufacturing sector to remain competitive?

We place premium on knowing our customers. We are highly diversified and keep on innovating. We operate effective management of cash flow and focus on our core competencies among others.

What initiatives or policies should government deploy to create more conducive environment in the real sector?

Any initiative that will help increase more participation in the real sector across all industries will ultimately drive productivity. The economy cannot grow relying on rents and taxes, especially where the organisations available to pay the taxes and rents are few.

There should be deliberate implementable plan to make forex available to manufacturers at reasonable rates, boost power production, with high priority giving to supply of power to the manufacturing sector and stream lining of the taxation system. There is also the need to protect local industries through the custom tariff system, which should be made to favour goods that are locally produced and skewed against imported products that can be manufactured locally.

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What are the products offered by Vitavisco?

Vitavisco deploys polymer technology to provide solutions for lifestyle, home and industrial needs. The Company’s main products include the following: Molded Viscoelastic (memory) foam, Molded high resilience foams for office and automotive seating, Polyurethane shoe, soles, Polyethylene foam sheet, used for protective packaging, insulation and expansion joint applications in construction, padding material in furniture, padding material in bag making (both regular and lunch bags), etc.

Polyethylene foam rod, used as expansion joint filler and in mattress edge finishing, Polyethylene foam duct used as insulation duct for air conditioner waste water pipe, Polyethylene foam net used for protective packaging of agricultural produce such as fruits.

What are the specific problems they are designed to solve?

Vitavisco developed a range of memory foam pillows to solve the problems of poor sleep patterns occasioned by sleeping on uncomfortable surfaces, neck and back pains often caused by using wrong pillow materials, and snoring associated with misalignment of the head and neck when using substitute pillow materials.

Mattress and furniture makers, including interior decoration practitioners, across the country finally have a solution from Vitavisco to help provide their customers with sleeping and resting comfort.

Most executives and other office workers in Nigeria are familiar with the ever nagging back and waste pain. In the absence of disease conditions, these problems are often as a result of using inappropriate office chair, padded with the wrong foam material.

The Vitavisco molded high resilience office chair foam is designed to arrest this challenge. With our molded office chair foam, executive health and productivity are guaranteed.

The polyethylene foam range of products’ applications cut across various industries, solving varieties of challenges: When used as joint filler, polyethylene foam sheet and rod save the country foreign exchange as these products are imported by various construction companies that require them.

Vitavisco imports the products from China. The polyethylene foam padding material provides the furniture maker with more creative options in upholstery works. The polyethylene foam duct used in the insulation of air conditioner waste water pipe also save the country foreign exchange.

These brand of insulation ducts were being imported from China before the commencement of Vitavisco extrusion plants foam nets have been introduced to help curb waste in agricultural produce such as fruits during transportation from the farm to the market.

The foam sheets have been made available to help local bag makers take their crafts notches higher. They are now able to produce bags that can compete in the international market because of the insulation effect of polyethylene foam.

To enhance staff productivity, what safety measures and capacity-building initiatives has the company implemented?

Continuous training is our watchword in Vitavisco. We cannot afford not to train because of the uniqueness of our products. Almost everyone joining the organisation comes in without no previous knowledge of our operations. We therefore place a lot of emphasis on training, including on the job training. The practice of being ‘fair and firm’, have contributed to a positive work culture. We try to achieve full engagement of our employees.

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Highlight key achievements or milestones that Vitavisco has accomplished in recent years. Also, what makes Vitavisco a brand to watch?

We are always the first in every market we have entered and the same applies to the products that we have introduced in the Nigerian market. We go close to our customers, identify their needs and offer solutions to suit.

Are there any emerging trends or developments in the industry that Vitavisco is poised to capitalise on?

Definitely, many trends are emerging and we have identified some growth opportunities for our business. But we shall keep this close to our chest at the moment.