Stallion Group recently acquired the Nigerian franchise of Bajaj Auto. In this interview, Managing Director, Stallion Auto KeKe Limited, Mr. Manish Rohtagi tells Bennett Oghifo the alliance will go a long way in empowering Nigerians to be self-reliant. Excerpts:
Why the Stallion Group acquire the Bajaj franchise in Nigeria?
For over 50 years, Stallion has successfully navigated the Nigerian terrain and has become a time-tested conglomerate that has its presence across the Nigerian economy. Stallion Group’s vision is to adopt global best practices and localise it to develop scalable, impactful and sustainable business that is committed to improving the socio-economic conditions of the communities. Stallion brand is now a household name in Nigeria touching lives every day with its products; be it rice, fish, steel or auto sales, distribution and assembling. It employs thousands directly and indirectly; it is one of the foremost conglomerates hugely invested in the country gaining respect and trust of the community. Bajaj Auto, on the other hand, is a world leader in the intra-city vehicle space. Loved in 70 countries the brand stands for integrity, dedication, resourcefulness and determination to succeed and empower. With similar brand ethos we believe that this alliance will go a long way in empowering Nigerians to be self-reliant and improve the interests of the stakeholders be it employees, dealers, distributors, vendors, mechanics, unions, logistic operators or bankers.
What potential growth is there for you in the market with the Bajaj franchise?
We have years of experience in multiple countries, including Nigeria, and I foresee the opportunity that Bajaj has vast potentials for growth in the Nigerian market. Bajaj is the dominant tricycle brand with over 70 per cent market share in populous countries like India, Argentina, Columbia and many other Asian and Latin American countries. So, Nigerian success story is a matter of time. The right approach and service to the dealers and consumers to bring out the USPs of the product and essence of the brand will add strength for it to become the market leader.
What plans do you have for the Bajaj in the South-south and South-east market?
Bajaj is the world leader and market leader in North, Central Nigeria and many states in the East with dominant market share of over 85 per cent. Our focus has always been in keeping our employees and dealers satisfied. The core of our strategy in non-leading markets would revolve around our channel partners. The Nigerian customer is much evolved and well informed, and they have a keen eye for value for money and support by the company. We are committed to bring this to them.
With the downtown in global economies, are you considering any form of financing package for prospective customers?
The downturn in global economy has had a lasting impact on many industries. Our customers are the ones who are most impacted by the pandemic, as a lot of them are daily wage earners. Owning a tricycle in these times could be impossible if not supported through Micro Finance Banks and Non-Banking Finance Companies that come forward to support them through hire purchase. In terms of financing packages, we have many MFBs and financing partners who are committed to support their purchases on best viable terms.
Tell us about after-sales and spare parts back-up
The aftersales and spare availability has been the backbone of Stallion Group flagship brands like Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Changan, Ashok Leyland, KYC, Skoda, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche. Service is one of the core strengths and the investment in state of the art sales and service facilities to support the requirement justifies the commitment towards the customers. We have well established processes which are laid down by Bajaj Auto based on experience on product and customer requirements. We will have a dedicated network of service and spares which will be handled by highly trained Nigerian engineers and technicians. Highest level of craftsmanship is what one can see in our dedicated team of engineers and technician.
Can you estimate the value for the 3-wheeler business in Nigeria?
Due to the lack of formal accredited market information entity, it’s difficult to estimate the actual market size. But based on the data for importation, it should be around 150,000 per year. There are about 400,000 tricycles (Keke) on Nigerian roads and there is potential of 2 million tricycles in the country. The 3-W market in Nigeria has high potential for growth, as it serves two fundamental needs; that of intra city commute in the lack of available options for public transport and employment generation.
We can make public transportation more affordable and cleaner
The mode of commute is fuel efficient and least polluting in comparison to any tokunbo public carrier. With government’s support, Bajaj can also provide LPG and CNG options in the future. Stallion can bring it into the country. We are confident that, with the help of policy makers, we can make public transportation more affordable and cleaner. Even if we estimate around 10 Keke per 1,000 Nigerians, there is a potential to have 200,000 tricycles on the roads that can provide affordable transportation to this country. The policy makers should focus on greener transportation system.
Why would a customer prefer the Keke Bajaj to other brands?
Bajaj Keke is known for its durability, speed and manoeuvrability. We have actively sought customer feedback to drive innovation, product and service improvement. With Stallion we run a very de-centralised operation with quicker decision-making which will help drive our operating efficiency. The RE- Keke and the load carrier category called Maxima Cargo is expected to grow at a much faster rate as Stallion will actively push for the adoption of Cargo tricycles by existing partner and customer ecosystem.
Bajaj is the pioneer brand of Tricycles in Nigeria loved by millions across the country and partnership with Stallion further adds to the strength.
What are your plans for the Bajaj brand under Stallion franchisee in the next five years?
Our immediate task is to establish and forge long term partnership with our dealers and channel ecosystem across Nigeria. Through these fulfilment partners, we envisage providing employment opportunity to five million Nigerians directly and indirectly over the next five years. Bajaj has always been a trusted and admired brand in Nigeria, so is the case with Stallion. The synergy is going to take market by storm.
How competitively priced will the new Bajaj be under Stallion compared to other brands?
Our pricing policy will be in line with the philosophy of increasing customer’s prosperity. For us, customer ROI and profit is important, and we will ensure that our pricing decision is aligned to it. Price is an outcome of happiness of employees, dealers and customers and we will ensure that the thought resonates with all our stakeholders ubiquitously.