It was a big celebration recently in Sagamu, Ogun State, when Nigeria’s biggest brewery became operational. Sunday Ehigiator writes
The sleepy Orile Imo community in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of the Ogun State experienced huge human and vehicular traffic recently, as dignitaries from all walks of life came to witness the commissioning of the $250 million state-of-the-art Gateway Brewery situated at Km3 Flowergate Industrial Scheme, Sagamu-Abeokuta Expressway.
Built with strategic objectives in mind, the brewery, owned by International Breweries PLC (IB Plc), will boost the local production of notable brands under the company’s stable, including Trophy, Hero, Betamalt, Grandmalt, Castle Lite, Eagle Lager and the recently launched global brand, Budweiser.
To stakeholders, having the AB InBev Group, the world’s largest brewer and parent company of IB PLC, deepen its foothold in Nigeria, represents a significant stride in the country’s quest towards economic transformation and development.
A hint of the importance attached to the day was the presence of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari. Meanwhile, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who also doubled as the host, came with an entourage comprising commissioners, permanent secretaries, advisers and secretary to the state government. Other eminent persons that graced the occasion included the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi; United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; and Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Dr Demola Sogunle, and many more.
In his welcome remarks, Chairman, International Breweries Plc, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Igwe of Onitsha, expressed the company’s delight to be “surrounded by a group of people who are passionate about sustaining investments, the development of new frontiers and creating value for stakeholders.”
Going down memory lane, Achebe, noted that the commissioning symbolised a chord that binds the various entities that coalesced into a new identity, adding, “International Breweries Plc was founded in 1971 by Dr Lawrence Omole. The Company was listed on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in April, 1995. On 1 June, 2012, SABMiller assumed management control of the Company following a strategic alliance with the Castel Group.
“At this time, SABMiller had also acquired a controlling interest in Pabod Breweries Limited in Port Harcourt and built a green field brewery, Intafact Beverages Limited, in Onitsha. In September, 2016, AB InBev combined with SABMiller worldwide, thereby effectively owning controlling interests in Intafact, Pabod and the then IB Plc. In November 2017, Intafact and Pabod Breweries combined with International Breweries Plc to create our enlarged company of International Breweries Plc, one of the larger companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.”
He said the dream of the organisation “is to bring people together for a better world by strengthening connections and achieving more together. We are now at the beginning of our combined company’s journey for the next 100 years and beyond.”
Global Chief Executive Officer of AB InBev, Mr. Carlos Brito, in expressing the group’s commitment to Nigeria, noted that it would not have “reached this critical milestone without the support of some exceptional colleagues as a result of our combination with SAB in 2016 to become the largest brewing company in the world. The combination with SAB has exceeded our expectations. We have incorporated the best of both companies by bringing together world-class talent, integrating best practices and deepening our understanding of consumers and occasions across all markets.”
Noting that the experience of sharing a beer has brought people and cultures together, Brito stated that the new brewery, the company’s largest plant within the group in Africa, outside of South Africa, will have a significant multiplier effect on the value chain within Ogun State, its environs, and provide both direct and indirect employment, manufacture global brands locally and support Nigeria’s foreign direct investment aspirations.
He said: “To brew the highest quality beers, we need a sustainable environment and thriving communities.
Sustainability is not just related to our business, it is our business. Our people are at the heart of our business. Their ability to dream big and come together is what differentiates our company. This year, we announced a set of ambitious Sustainability Goals, which focus on making a tangible difference in areas such as Energy, Agriculture, Water, Recycling Packaging and Entrepreneurship.
“Smart Drinking is equally critical to our future, and amongst other things, we are expanding our portfolio of no- and lower-alcohol beer products. Indeed, we have committed to ensuring that no- and lower-alcohol beer products represent at least 20 per cent of our global beer volume by 2025. As the world’s leading brewer, we take responsibility for the health and growth of the global beer category. We are using our industry-leading analytics, insights and brands to understand and address the evolving needs of consumers around the world.”
Annabelle Degroot, Managing Director, IB Plc, speaking about the inauguration, described the plant as a major step towards the company’s strategic goal of producing high-quality drinks locally. “International Breweries Plc is a brand that places a premium on quality. We are committed to brewing quality beers that consumers love, using the highest quality ingredients and bringing centuries of brewing heritage. We combine innovation and state of the art techniques to continue to meet consumer needs and brew high quality beer. Bearing this in mind, we will spare no expense or effort in ensuring that Nigerians are treated to the best traditions in brewing, with outstanding recipes, superior ingredients, innovation and world-class techniques. The outcome is to ensure satisfaction and enjoyment for our consumers,” she said.
International Breweries Plc, she said, has seen much change in the last year. According to her, “We have combined with our sister companies, Intafact Beverages Ltd and Pabod Breweries Ltd to become a stronger and more efficient entity and one of the largest companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. We now employ more than 1,200 permanent employees. One of the objectives of the company is to create job opportunities for the people of Ogun state as well as Nigerians in general.
“The brewery will also be instrumental in empowering farmers and local manufacturers as most of the raw materials required will be sourced locally. This will, in turn, contribute to the economic development of the country.”
Degroot reiterated that this combination of the various businesses signified an important step in the dream to be a leading beverage company in Nigeria. The approach has enabled the company to drive cost savings and improved operational efficiencies by simplifying the supply chain and by optimising the use of combined resources, helping to create a sustainable business for the future.
Degroot stated, “Our commitment of N90 billion ($250 million) to build this world class brewery demonstrates our confidence in the future prospects for Nigeria and our determination to invest and to be a partner in the economy for the long term. This plant is the biggest and most modern brewery in Nigeria.
“The brewery will be our fourth brewery in Nigeria and will partner with our existing three breweries in Onitsha, Ilesha and Port Harcourt. All four breweries will continue to be equally important to the future growth of our company,”
Amosun described the inauguration of the plant as a testimonial of the success of his administration’s drive towards development of the state, adding that the state remains an attractive destination for investment and businesses.
“The establishment of this factory is not a misplaced priority. Our industrial master-plan has witnessed transformational changes that would also go a long way to significantly benefit this factory. We are not relenting on our efforts to make Ogun State a haven for both local and foreign investments,” the governor stated.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha, who commended the exemplary leadership of Achebe for his seamless combination of traditional and corporate functions, said the Federal Government was delighted by the decision of IB to site such a gigantic plant in Nigeria.
Commending Amosun for attracting huge investments to Ogun State, Mustapha said the federal government remained focused on the attainment of its three cardinal policies, namely, tackling corruption, insecurity and job creation. He urged investors, both local and foreign, to leverage on the provisions of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) policy to invest in the country. Nigeria, Mustapha said, is ready for business.