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Folikwe’s Desire For Diligence

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A background in marketing makes Peter Folikwe a well-rounded executive with a great depth of knowledge and experience in manufacturing and telecommunications. And after several years as a manufacturer, he emphasises the need for a more enabling environment in the sector.

As long as our products meet with specifications and standard, we ought to be given preference…

I was privileged to be at a function of CEO’s with Lagos State’s Governor Akinwunmi Ambode recently and I told him that I had taken time to review some of his projects and discovered that decorative paints were used. And virtually all the paints used faded within a short period of time. For all those projects, Berger Paints also bid to supply paints but for whatever reasons, unbranded paint companies won the bid. I had to explain to him that one of the ways government can encourage indigenous companies who fulfil their statutory obligations is to patronise us. As long as our products meet with specifications and standard, we ought to be given preference. This is one way to protect the indigenous companies rather than sacrifice them on the altar of penchant for foreign products that are of less value at times.

When people imitate your products, they not only destroy your reputation but they also take food off your table…

Most top rated brands often face the heinous challenge of pass-offs on their brand or outright imitation of their products. Berger Paints is not an exception. We apprehended some of the criminals recently and handed them over to the police for persecution. On our part, we are doing all we can to direct unsuspecting customers to our selling point or from our business partners represented in major capital cities in the country. The Lagos State government is assisting us in our effort to apprehend those who are de-marketing us through fake products. When people imitate your products, they not only destroy your reputation but they also take food off your table.

Government’s promise for forex availability to manufacturers has not been fulfilled…

Since Nigeria came out of recession, only two sectors of the government has recovered and the manufacturing sector is not one of the two. We all know that the manufacturing sector is the major employer of labour in any country.  Unfortunately, government seems to be insensitive to the plights of operators in the sector. Government’s promise for forex availability to manufacturers has not been fulfilled so that most manufacturers depend on imputation of raw materials, while the official CBN FX rate of N305 per dollar remains an illusion. Since 2015, Berger paints has never bought dollar at N305 for its LC transactions. 

It is not the portfolio investors that grow an economy…

Government needs to rethink all policies as they affect the manufacturing sector because this is the sector that would actually grow the economy if the potentials within are properly harnessed. The government must have clear understanding that it is not the portfolio investors that grow an economy because the government keeps saying, we are trying to encourage investors that grow economies. It is the government’s ability to create enabling environment that can make companies to operate optimally, make profits and ultimately become attractive to both indigenous and foreign investors.

   The Ghanaian government made a deliberate decision to grow its manufacturing sector in regions by deliberately enacting policies that will achieve that purpose. Nigeria needs to take a cue from them.

   The second thing which I think the government should address as a matter of urgency is to evolve a policy that would help create a value chain for crude oil instead of exporting only in its primary state to the developed world who then process and sell back to us as raw materials/petrochemicals. It does not make sense! Thank God for the likes of Alhaji Aliko Dangote that is building a private refinery. These are some of the things that government should encourage.

If you don’t get your route right, your topline will be threatened…

When I assumed duty as the chief executive officer of this company, I decided to someday, leave Berger Paints, better than I met it. I will say we are not fully there yet, but a number of initiatives we have since executed is aimed at achieving this singular objective. One of the objectives we aim to achieve is to change the route to market dynamics because if you don’t get your route right, your topline will be threatened.

We are careful about how we source funds to do business…

For Berger Paints, we are careful about how we source funds to do business. The cheapest fund is obviously through the capital market. We were the first paints company to be quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). It shows that we understand the nitty gritty of the market and quickly took the advantage of the opportunities then. But, it’s increasingly becoming difficult nowadays to get this cheap funds.

We are equally living up to consumer’s demand trend…

Our recently introduced POS machines offer the customer the liberty to customize their colour choices in whatever quantity they want it and the delivery process is a lot quicker. These decision makers have limited time and there is a need to take the product close to them. That is the objective of the POS machine. For instance, the POS machine actually addresses the issue of batch production in a pragmatic way. It is a changing trend and as a dynamic organisation, we are equally living up to consumer’s demand trend. In the past, people never really played with colours, today colours have different personalities and people express themselves in colours.

You need to profile your customers and put them in segments…

Fundamentally, every one of us understands that there is no way a company can address every market segment. You obviously have to set your goals around your target market. You cannot target everybody. You need to profile your customers and put them in segments.   People however migrate from one segment to another, depending on the shift in their economic status at any point in time. The segment we focus on is the medium to the upper class of the economic strata. We are not saying that we are beyond the reach of the lower economic groupings. We expect people to improve in their economic status.



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