BusinessDay

Mouka’s story shows untapped opportunities in $30bn global mattress industry

The activity of sleeping and waking up refreshed has seen the global mattress industry thrive over the years, reaching a value of $30.36 billion in 2020, according to data from Fortune business insight.

This activity has also endeared the heart of mattress users to brands that fulfil customer satisfaction by providing durable, affordable, and comfortable mattresses.

A report from Fortune business insight shows that the global mattress market size was valued at $30.36 billion in 2020 with projections to reach $30.93 billion in 2021. Also growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.8 percent between 2021-2028, the industry should reach $42.84 billion by 2028.

Some companies who have eyes for opportunities have settled in the industry making a significant amount of revenue quietly such as the well-known Mouka foam in Nigeria.

Founded in 1959 by the Moukarims, a Lebanese family, the company has been in existence long enough to become a household name and choice preference in furnishing homes.

Mouka makes polyurethane foam products and mattresses in Nigeria, and has three factories in the country, with a distribution network of 350 third-party distributors while its products are distributed through over 1,000 outlets.

People around the world are becoming more aware of the importance of sleep for health and well-being as they also began to think of mattresses as the driving force behind a productive day

The company pioneered the phasing out of CFC (carbon-fluoro-carbon) material in its production process in 1992 as well as the first foam company in Nigeria to receive ISO 9001 certification (Laboratory) in 1999.

According to the company, Mouka is currently the market leader in the foam and mattress category, producing in excess of 13,000,000 kilograms of foam, and 800,000 mattresses per annum, with a staff strength of 730 personnel across its plant locations.

It operates three factories in Lagos, Benin, and Kaduna, to address geographical spread and distribution challenges. The Lagos Factory, which is its headquarters, is responsible for 50 percent of production output and 60 percent of revenue.

Research by the National Bureau of Statistics in Nigeria affirmed that 99.1 percent of households own either a mattress, bed, or mat as a top household asset.

As a large-scale producer and distributor of mattress, foams, and pillows, Mouka’s growth is significantly supported by a growing population, need for satisfactory sleep, growth in the healthcare and hospitality sectors, rising disposable incomes, along with an increase in home ownership.

“Furthermore, rise in the residential housing activities as a result of manifold increase in the global population will prompt the market progression over the forecast timeline,

“Additionally, large-scale utilization of various home furnishing products is set to create huge industry demand over the forthcoming timeline while humungous popularity of natural & organic mattresses across the globe will propel the business space in the years to come,” Fortune business insight states.

Other than households, the clientele of mattress makers includes hospitals, hotels, boarding schools, tertiary institutions, etc. all of which spring up in large numbers annually.

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In addition, research shows that people around the world are becoming more aware of the importance of sleep for health and well-being as they also began to think of mattresses as the driving force behind a productive day, thus pushing brands to respond to the consumer pursuit of quality sleep.

Nnenna Chigbo, president, Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy (NSP) said quality and comfortable mattresses and pillows determine how well a person sleeps as the body needs to align properly on them, she added that an uncomfortable mattress or pillow will affect sleep quality which can be detrimental to physical and mental health.

Mouka over the years has garnered loyalty from consumers across the country, in addition, it has also enticed the interest of foreign investors who recognized various opportunities in the industry and the company after being acquired three times and relinquished once in fifteen years.

In 2007, Private Equity firm, Actis acquired a majority stake in Mouka Foam from the Moukarim Family following the need for a succession plan for the company. In 2015, Actis relinquished its stakes after confirming that it sold its majority shareholding investment in Mouka Limited to Abraaj, another private equity investor.

However, in July 2019, Actis took over the ownership and management of Mouka along with 13 other companies majorly owned by Abraaj following allegations of misconduct and funds mismanagement

In December 2021, Moroccan mattress maker, Dolidol, with support from African private equity firm Development Partners International (DPI) announced the acquisition of Mouka with an investment of $60 million, a strategic business expansion move.

Highlighting conditions for its investment decisions in Africa, DPI states that it generally seeks to invest in fast-growing companies operating in high-growth sectors, particularly companies benefitting from Africa’s rapid urbanization, favourable demographics, and increasing adoption of technology.

“The sectors in which we invest are formalizing fast, and leading players are gaining disproportionate share – creating highly attractive growth trajectories for these companies,” it stated.

Mouka is not a publicly-traded company hence there are no available records to show the company’s financial data however it is safe to assume that it has an impressive financial record.

Till date, Mouka shows no indication of resting on its oars as it leverages innovation and research, to continuously improve its product offerings in order to surpass industry standards and also achieve complete consumer satisfaction.

The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) described Mouka as one of Nigeria’s leading mattress manufacturers, which has not only come through difficult economic conditions but also used them as an opportunity to improve the way it operates.

In an interview with LSGE, Raymond Murphy, CEO, Mouka said the company recognized opportunities in a challenging operating environment, which is used to demonstrate the strength of its operations, by ensuring product availability in a marketplace where competitors are struggling to do the same.

“In order to grow our business we have adopted a number of key tactics, we have challenged all areas of our operations to find cost reductions and improve our productivity and operating efficiencies. We see the opportunity to capitalize on the current market inertia and grow to have undisputed market share leadership within a relatively short period of time,” he said.

Murphy added that the company focuses on rationalizing their product offering and concentrating on a higher-margin product mix of mattresses that can increase sales, with this they see an opportunity to have undisputed market share leadership.

Speaking with Ajose Tolulope, a distributor of Mouka foam in Lagos, she said that beyond the commercial relationship between them, the company tries to develop a more intimate relationship with distributors, adding that they enjoy a lot of benefits working with them.

“Mouka knows how to appreciate their distributors well, they offer gifts and bonuses when due and they are also interested in you scaling your business and will not hesitate to help out when necessary,” she said.

Akinola Olamide who retails mattresses said that most times, people prefer to buy Mouka foam because it is relatively affordable and has an option for everyone to choose from. He added that customers usually choose based on affordability, durability, comfort, referrals, etc.

“The company has built a strong reputation to become a household name,” he said. “A customer will first ask for Mouka foam or pillow before any other thing and they always come up with innovative products to drive customer satisfaction.”

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