By Sunday Okobi
Operators in the retail industry have stated that without the sector, the federal government â€˜Buy Made-in-Nigeria Goodsâ€™ initiative mayÂ notÂ succeed.
This assertion was made at the fourth edition of the â€˜Retail Leadersâ€™ conference with the theme: â€˜Supporting Retail: Â The next Driver of Nigeriaâ€™s Economic Growthâ€™, which took place in Lagos.
According to the operators, the retail sector has so much potential and opportunities to 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.
They said: â€œWe are the experts in the sector that the government is supposed to be talking to on this made-in-Nigeria project.â€
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 to offer, noting thatÂ by discussing these challenges and opportunities with all stakeholders, â€œwe would come to a point of understanding and drive an agenda as a vehicle that would support the policies of the government in terms of diversification among others. We are the experts in the sector that the government is supposed to be talking to.â€
He said the â€˜buy made-in-Nigeria goods campaignâ€™ is a noble idea, â€œbut it must include retail,Â Â without retail, it will not succeed because we remain the greatest channel of distribution, and as we increase our foot print in retailing, the made-in-Nigeria goods initiative would succeed in and outside Nigeria.â€
According to him, Nigeria is indeed a retailerâ€™s delight â€œwith a Â population of 170 million people, and 80 million people living in its metropolitan area as well as a consumer spending in excess ofÂ Â about $100 billion a year and a fast-growing middle class is definitely the most promising market in Africa.â€
â€œThe 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, therefore, the conference 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,â€ he said.
Â Ebata, who is the President of Bervidson Group, comprisingÂ Bervidson Consulting and Retail Business School, said he chose to focus on retail because the momentum of trade is at the point of retail-where goals take place.
Â He said: â€œIf we can get our retail strategy right, then every other thing will be right. It is the greatest channel of distribution; it employs about average of 19 percent globally and contributes to gross domestic product (GDP). So there are a lot to gain from retail if we as a nation can get our strategy right.â€
Â On modern and traditional forms of retailing, Ebata said: â€œThe traditional retail will continue to exist for the long run, side by side with modern form of retailing. Modern retail wonâ€™t kill theÂ 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. So it is a win-win situation. The modern retailing system is here to strengthen the traditional form of retailing, support it as we work together leveraging on each other, but this is the deal: As the middle class gets larger, of course we expect the Western â€“styled form of retailing to increase in size, capacity and reach, but the other form of trading would still exist in that manner.â€