Speaking at the just concluded 4th edition of the annual Retail Leaders Conference in Lagos, The President, Bervidson Retail Group and the Convener of the Conference, Mr. Joseph Ebata said the story of the Nigeria Retail industry is one of a proud past and a glorious future. Ebata said this while delivering his welcome address on the topic “Seizing the Momentum and Building a Retail Brighter Future”.
According to him, retail in Nigeria is evolving (as in most emerging economies) into the key driver and enabler of economic growth, adding that modern trade has remerged and grown by 12.5 CAGR over the last 15 years. “Traditional trade is evolving (with Open Markets becoming ultra-modern markets) and growing. As Nigeria actively drives the diversification of the Economy, Retail is driving urban regeneration with Ultra-Modern International Mall springing forth in all Key Cities of Nigeria. With leisure and social opportunities, the Nigerian Retail landscape is evolving to provide lifestyle options that drives economic velocity and leads to urban transformation,” he said.
Ebata noted that Nigeria is indeed a retailer’s delight with a population of about 170 million people, over 80 million people living in its urban areas, consumer spending in excess of about $100 billion a year and a fast-growing middle class is definitely the most promising market on the African continent.
The retail industry in Nigeria, according to him is transforming and “has become the delightsome bride of many entrepreneurs, particularly international retailers and investors seeking to do business in Africa”.
He further stated that this is the best moment for retailers to close rank and stakeholders to collaborate and solve the many challenges of retail so that the sector can fulfil its potentials in contributing to national economic development. According to him, “nationally there is momentum on the side of retail to become the engine of our national economic growth especially as the government actively seek to reposition the nation with emphasis on diversification of the economy. What is required is for all stakeholders including and particularly government to support the industry particularly in solving many of the industry’s challenges and guide it along the best transformation path so retail can achieve its full potentials of contributing to national employment and GDP and growth amongst others”.
Ebata also noted that the industry has been the worst hit by the strictures and tightness in the Financial Industry, high and unpredictable (informal) exchange rate and the general lower volume of economic activities.
Some of the many challenges that the industry most overcome for it to fulfil its potential he enumerated as:
- Strictures and tightness in the Financial Industry.
- High and unpredictable (informal) exchange rate
- General lower volume of economic activities.
- Policy and institutional challenges in the areas of;
- Regulatory and Trading Barriers
- Underdeveloped Infrastructure
- Limited Access to Retail Real Estate
- Scant Consumer and Trade Insights
- Limited Talent Pipeline
- Inadequate Access to Finance
- Poor Structure and Absence of International Best Practices.
He therefore called on all stakeholders at the Conference to proffer solutions to these and many other issues affecting the industry and set retail on the path to fulfilling its potentials.