Amid economic headwinds, manufacturers in various sub-sectors are exploring new business opportunities to grow revenue, profits and capacity.
Many local manufacturers are no more relying on their traditional products for growth, but are now diversifying into non-traditional channels to ensure they tap into opportunities in the Nigerian economy and also remain afloat amid economic uncertainties. The new revenue routes also enable them to circumvent retrenchment of staff and decreased productivity, findings have shown.
Flour Mills of Nigeria plc, for example, has moved beyond the traditional flour milling market into other businesses such as fertilizer, pasta, noodles, transport, packaging, and is investing $250 million in sugar in Niger State.
The firm last November built an ultra-modern 70,000 metric tons (MT) integrated Eastern Feed Mills in Calabar, Cross River State, regarded as the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
John G. Coumantaros, chairman, Flour Mills plc, says the feed mill’s products are intended to produce the most delicious chickens in the country, while also disclosing the company’s plan to diversify into other agro-allied-based investments in the state to boost production.
“It has the capacity to create 1,000 direct and indirect jobs, with the hope of turning Cross River into a “Chicken Republic,” says Coumantaros, at the commissioning.
May & Baker Nigeria plc, well-known for Paracetamol, Biovaccines and other drugs, has now delved into noodles and bottled water production. Its Mimee noodles and Lily water have gained acceptance among the Nigeria youth, BusinessDay has gathered.
“We are also planning to move into beverage production soon,” says Nnamdi Okafor, managing director, May & Baker, at its 70th anniversary in Nigeria.
Similarly, apart from plastics, Leogroup’s subsidiary, Rasa, has now gone into the beverage production, producing items such as Pinacolada, Apple and Peach, Tropical Mixed Fruit as well as Orange and Ginger.
Afolabi Fadairo, brand and promotion manager, Leosmart/Rasa, says the company has positioned itself towards giving Nigerians succulent fruit drinks that meet international standards.
Furthermore, apart from cement, BUA has also moved into flour, oil mills, estates, as well as ports and terminals.
“At the moment, new production facilities are being built in Sokoto. Obu is a green-field cement plant, and this means it has not been in existence before, and BUA is building it from scratch,” Yusuf Binji, executive director, project and technical, Bua Group, Okpella, Edo State, disclosed, during a facility tour of the new green-field cement plant called Obu Cement Plant, Okpella.
Moreover, Nosak Group, previously known for the manufacture of distilleries and oil lubricants now makes plastics and operate farms. The firm also provides heathcare products and stockbrokerage services.
Also, many manufacturers are riding on barcodes in order to have improved visibility of demand and supply chains beyond the Nigerian market and earn foreign exchange.
Already, a barcode issuer, GS1 Nigeria, has offered over 800 barcodes to some small and medium scale firms, some of which are manufacturers.
Babatunde Odunlami, CEO, GS1 Nigeria, says barcodes are important for tracking and tracing products back to their producers, while allowing companies worldwide to uniquely identify their customers, products, services, assets, logistic units, shipments, among other things. One of such companies to have got barcodes is Unilever Nigeria plc.
Josephine Ataboh, research and development (R&D) manager, personal care (West Africa), Unilever Nigeria plc, says her firm owned the single largest barcode number bank with GSI Nigeria, adding that the barcodes have enabled Unilever to transact its businesses seamlessly across geographies, thereby earning new revenues.
According to Ataboh, the barcodes have helped her firm optimise multinational operations, while providing safe and sustainable products to consumers. “We often have to trace where raw materials come from, track where products are going, and ensure compliance with legislation and regulatory requirements,” she stated.