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Retail Sector: The Best Vehicle to Drive ‘Buy Made-in-Nigeria Goods’ Initiative – Joseph Ebata

Operators in the retail industry have stated that without the sector, the federal government ‘Buy Made-in-Nigeria Goods’ initiative may not succeed.

This assertion was made at the fourth edition of The Retail Leaders Conference with the theme: ‘Supporting Retail:  The next Driver of Nigeria’s Economic Growth’, which took place in Lagos.

According to the operators, the retail sector has so much potential and opportunities and as such must not be overlooked, adding that the sector would be responsible for driving any economic agenda that would support government policies in terms of diversification among others.

“Retail operators are the experts in the sector that the government is supposed to be talking to on this made-in-Nigeria project to push the message given our proximity to, and relationship with the consumers.”

At the event, one of the speakers and the convener of the conference, Mr. Joseph Ebata, stated that the retail sector has so much potential and opportunities that when exploited will drive social and economic growth for the country. What retail need is for all stakeholders to discuss and agree on how to support it to overcome its many challenges to set retail on the path of achieving its potential. Platforms like the Retail Leaders Conference offer stakeholders that opportunity to discuss, align and present a common agenda to government on how best to support retail and I am glad the experts are here gathered and I am confident that the outcome will go a long way to support government’s diversification effort among others.

Speaking on the ‘buy made-in-Nigeria goods campaign’, Ebata noted that it is a noble idea, “but it must include retail,  without retail, it will not succeed because we remain the greatest channel of distribution and best advocate of the initiative. For instance, as collaborate with retail to increase its footprint in and outside of Nigeria, retail will play the dual role of making these goods available wherever it is and at the same time advocate the product to its customers.

On the future of retail in Nigeria, according to him, “Nigeria is indeed a retailer’s delight with a  population of 170 million people, and 80 million people living in its metropolitan area as well as a consumer spending in excess of  about $100 billion a year and a fast-growing middle class is definitely the most promising market in Africa.”

“The retail industry in Nigeria is transforming and has become the delightsome bride of many entrepreneurs, particularly the international retailers and investors seeking to do business in Africa. This conference therefore offers us the opportunities surface and address the key challenges affecting the retail industry; understand the huge opportunities inherent in it and develop a blueprint for the industry to grow and succeed thereby affecting the Nigerian economy,” he said.

Ebata, who is the President of Bervidson Group, comprising Bervidson Consulting and Retail Business School, said he chose to focus on retail because of his belief that the industry has the capacity to support our national social and economic life. Retail is the shortest route to solving our national unemployment challenge, growth in national output and GDP. We chose retail to provide it with the right platform to surface the issues, challenges and opportunities in retail as well as drive a collaborative approach to charting the best transformational growth path for the industry.

He said: “When everything boils down to the basics, the volume and momentum of trade is the engine of economic growth. At the core of trade, and as the ultimate point of value exchange is retail. If we can get our retail strategy right, then every other thing will be right. It is the greatest channel of distribution and a huge employment potential.

Globally, retail plays a dual role as a key driver and as a catalyst of world economic growth. As a driver, retail contributes $19 trillion to global GDP, representing 27% of global output and employs more than 17% of the global workforce. As a catalyst, it is the point where supply meets demand, and it is how goods and service reach the final point of exchange. Retail as a leading indicator, is a very good predictor of the direction of Economic Activity, usually it has typically grown at 1.5 times faster than GDP

In Nigeria, it contributes about 10% to national employment Nigeria and about $125 billion to national sales.  So there are a lot to gain from retail if we as a nation can get our retail strategy right.”

On modern and traditional forms of retailing, Ebata said: “The traditional retail will continue to exist for the long run, side by side with modern form of retailing. Modern retail won’t kill the  traditional retailing, instead, the traditional retail would get better by the day, and that you have already seen in the open market structures which all been converted to ultra-modern market. Therefore, it is a win-win situation. The modern retailing system will ultimately strengthen the traditional form of retailing. But this is the deal: As the middle class gets larger, of course we expect the Western –styled form of retailing to increase in size, capacity and reach, but the other form of trading would still exist in that manner.”

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