Mr. Gautam Singh Ghai, is the Executive Director at Carbon Retail Limited. He speaks on the customer focused company as well as plans for the Nigerian market
About your Carbon Retail Limited
We are a three year-old company with retail operations in 7 countries across Africa. Namely Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mozambique, DRC, Zambia and Sudan. We are the largest distributors of Dunlop & Sumitomo brands of tyres in Africa by volume. Our group Holding company is called Carbon Global Holdings Limited and we operate our business in Nigeria under Carbon Retail Limited.
What are your plans for Nigeria?
We are focused on the consumer side of the business apart from the dealer network. Our endeavour is to give the Nigerian consumer a world class retail experience with state-of-the-art Tyre experience centres across the country. Typically, we have seen that the Nigerian market has not experienced retail in its truest form and we believe this is the space we will create a niche in and offer the consumer a never seen retail experience in this space.
Can you elaborate more on the retail piece?
When you visit any of our stores in any of the countries we operate in, you will see a distinct feature that is customer centric. Our stores are created with emphasis on transparency and openness. Starting from our customer lounge to the toilets we take great care to ensure we cater to comfort of the customer. We believe in investing in training and development and ensure all new hires go through extensive customer care training and technical knowhow before getting behind the counter. All our technicians must go through in-house training and tests before they get to the workshop bay. As you know, buying tyres is a grudge purchase decision and we believe we must make this experience as pleasurable as possible for a customer so that the when they walk out of the store, we occupy a positive space in the minds of the customer. We have not mastered it yet, but we would eventually want to measure happiness and satisfaction on every customer we attend to.
What are you doing differently from the other players in the market?
We would not like to comment on our competitors. To start with, we think Nigeria has not seen Tyre retail the way we see it. We see a lot of fitment centres, but none would really qualify on quality parameters when put to independent retail audit. We started our flagship store in December 2017 and within 2 months of operations we introduced Tyre Insurance on any tyre bought from our store. The 1st year we cover the tyres for free and should the customer desire, on a nominal charge he/she can extend it for another year. We have partnered with Prestige Insurance to provide this service to Nigerians. We are also the only company to Introduce Quick Service for all vehicle brands and we use only the top brands when it comes to consumables like Oil, Oil filters, Brake Pads and Shocks.
What are your plans for growth in this market?
We have big plans for Nigeria. We see Nigeria as an important market going forward. We have already identified cities and areas where we want to be operative and basis availability of prime locations, will be opening many more stores across the country. We are looking at organic as well as inorganic growth opportunities.
Any challenges in particular?
Pretty simple really…People. We can fight the market on price, we can fight on product the only challenge we face is getting good people on to our teams. We as a company have now started to scout business schools to bring on board exciting talents with fresh ideas to push forward our vision. If we can offer a platform to youngsters to experiment, make mistakes and become stakeholders, we believe Carbon will be a company that will be difficult to beat and one of the preferred employers in this market.
Lastly how do you see the Nigerian Tyre market?
For us Nigeria is the second biggest market after South Africa on this continent in terms of volume and potential. Despite the market being flooded with cheap brands from china we see the informed Nigerian consumer and fleets wanting quality brands. We are excited by the response we have got and believe we can give the consumer a fair price, quality product and unmatched service in this segment. Apart from offering almost all sizes in Passenger and 4×4 segment, we have offerings on both Tier 1 and Tier 2 brands with Dunlop and Sumitomo both coming from the same factory in Japan on the commercial truck segment. With regards to Off The Road and Industrial tyres side we have Solideal Camso as offering to complete the full range of needs in this market.