Olufemi Oguntade, the managing director of Portland Paint and Products Nigeria Plc, owners of Sandtex brand is desirous of delivering value to his stakeholders. The chartered accountant with varied experience who launched customers experience center recently to easily meet consumers quest for unconventional colours told BusinessDay that Nigeria’s paints market including the organized and unorgansed market is in excess of over N35 billion annually. He said his products are renowned for their quality and variety. Excepts.
When you look at the picture of paint industry in Nigeria what do you see?
The picture of paint industry is bright because there are a number of potentials yet untapped. For Portland and Paints Industry plc we are working hard to tap those potentials and work in concert with the paint manufacturers sector of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria to deepen the paint industry in Nigeria. There are prospects in the industry particularly with the auto industry coming on stream. This will provide opportunity for us and we are working towards leveraging the opportunity.
What is the ratio of importation versus local production to meet consumers’ needs?
About 75 percent is produced locally and 25 percent imported. Those that are really importing paints are the elites who think that premium paints are only imported. But when you talk of mass housing projects and local projects definitely the owners will find choices among paints manufactured locally.
How would you rate the capacity utilization among the paints industry?
It is averaging about 60 percent which is in tandem with the industry average. We should not forget that since the rebased GDP, Nigeria manufacturing sector is contributing much more to the growth of the economy more than it was estimated. In this gamut the paint industry is also contributing but the only challenge we have is that it is fragmented. There is no barrier to entry. Some people manufacture paints in their backyards at substandard level. This is the area we want to work with SON to ensure we bring sanity in to the industry. For instance, in the developed countries they ensure that there should not be any lead material in paint because of its hazardous effect on human. Our interest is let there be standard in the market in the interest of the consumer.
If market penetration of quality products is ensured, it could checkmate the adulterated products, what are the big players doing in this regard.
We should realize that the size of the pocket plays a great role even when there is good offering some people will prefer to go for lower quality because that is what they can afford. Sometimes the financial capacity of some people dwindles as building construction progresses since painting comes almost at last in building process and at this time some tend to go for lesser quality. But finishing is what will bring the beauty of building to ensure value is achieved. We are working with Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria to facilitate credit to ensure they use good products for their consumers.
Within the paint industry where is Portland Paints?
We are among the top three paint industries in Nigeria. This is why we are blazing the trail in innovations. Last week we launched customer experience center which is a new concept in Nigeria. The idea is to give more colour offerings to consumers at faster pace. You can get to our depot and need unconventional colour, we can produce it for you at minimal time with the technology we have installed. We have up 1,000 on offer.
What is the plan to replicate the customer experience center in other cities to deepen and further penetrate the market?
What we did last week was not just launch our point of sales tinting system and in-plant; we also launched our new packaging. We have a time- frame to withdraw the old packaging from the market. We are creating new live in to our packaging. Portland is moving to greater height. What we did is what we are replicating all over the country.
What is the advantage of the experience center to consumers?
We are particular about the consumer. We are customer focused company. We always want to ensure that we delight our customer. It is a delightful experience if a customer walks in to our depot and demands for an unconventional colour and he/she is able to have it within minutes that is a delightful experience. I want to assure our consumers that they are in for a good time with what Portlant Paint is bringing out of our stable.
There is opportunity in the auto paints, how are you preparing to tap into it?
The main opportunity we see in the auto industry is not just about re-finishing, we are looking at assembly plants that are going to need these paints to paint new vehicles. As we serve the industry, this will be replicated for those who want to repaint their vehicles. We are already in talks with some companies that will enable us participate well in this market. Don’t forget that Federal Government is particular about local content and if they can find a company that can supply these assembly plants here in Nigeria it will be a plus for the economy and we are sure we will get the support of government in that regard.
What is the percentage of your local content in the production of paints?
It is close to 70 percent.
Going forward, are you looking at introducing new products in your offering?
Certainly, Sandtex is a brand on its own but there could be a lot of variants that could come out of it. For us as a company, one of our key values is about innovation. There are variant of paints we have that addresses bacteria on the wall. We are also marketing some variants of paints that are good for eateries, schools, hospitals and other public places that can minimize the effect of bacteria by people touching the walls. It can be used at kitchens and bathrooms. There are paints that are mosquito repellants. One of our strategic trusts is to grow our Research and Development unit so that we can come up with more offerings. What we have just launched is a tip of the ice bag as there are many other brands that will come out of Sandtex brand which is our flagship.
Is Sandtex an indigenous brand name or under franchise?
Sandtex used to be a foreign brand, owned by Blue Circle of UK. If you look at our legacy, we used to be part of West African Portland Cement and they were also into paints. But in 2004, we were able to buy Sandtex brand from them. In Nigeria, Sandtex is owned fully by Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Limited.
How are you coping with use of tiles and other materials in building instead of paints?
What people will find out is that use of tiles and other materials might look glamorous initially but they dont stand the text of time. When it comes to sustainable ambience and beauty, there is nothing that will replace paints. When you talk quality paints, Sandtex is the first choice. The paint has been on the wall of Federal Palace Hotels for over 25 years. Sandtex is the only brand that give legally enforceable 5 years guaranty and that is minimum. The paint is enduring.