It would be good news for Nigerians if the Peugeot brand becomes a household name again. Back in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, families would love to be proud owners of either a Peugeot 504 or 505 Evolution for maximum comfort and speed. However, that dream began to dwindle with the acceptance of fairly-used imported vehicles, better known as Tokunbo cars. There is good news nonetheless, because the new partnership between Dangote and Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, Dangote Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, has a workable vision.
Precisely, in June last year, the French carmaker, PSA Groupe’s N3.5 billion deal with Dangote to set up an assembly plant made massive headlines. The eight-member deal that included the Bank of Industry and five northern states, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kebbi, Katsina and Kano as partners, was billed to commence production of the automobile brand in the first quarter of 2019. Today, the promise has been considerably fulfilled and the joint venture is set to roll.
Subsequent to the acquisition that earned Dangote a majority stake, Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited (PAN), customarily assumed the name of the key member of the consortium. Gone are the old days, PAN is now brand-new with a fresh merged name, Dangote Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, DPAN. But this multi-partnership did not come easy. It suffered an initial setback.
In May 2018, a representative of Peugeot Automobile France in Nigeria, Mr. Eric Maydiey, took the lid off after he disclosed that the Dangote Group and some other interests floating a joint venture had abandoned their collective bid to buy over PAN with 52 million euros (N21 billion) from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) when, over a year after bidding, the agency was yet to declare it as the winner of the bid. The syndicate dumped the bidding and opted to build another Peugeot plant for assembly of Peugeot brands in Nigeria. PAN bought the alternate initiative but at the price. However, it partnered with Dangote Industries Limited coupled with others and the joint venture christened DPAN commenced plans to build another more modern auto assembly line in Dutse, Kaduna. But what was responsible for AMCON’s prolonged delay for a project that would have created numerous jobs for our unemployed youths? Well, we will revisit this issue another day.
PAN has had several challenges that have partly ruined its business. It wanted a fresh breath of life. The company has come to a point in its life where it must resolve that enough is enough and opt for a new lease of life.
In the 1980s, PAN was producing 90,000 cars annually and was profitable. But before long, cheap, second-hand vehicles imported from Asia and poor manufacturing infrastructure impeded the company’s profits. The Nigerian government subsequently sold off its controlling stake in the company in 2006 to local core investors. The new investors struggled to keep PAN afloat but in the process accumulated bad loans. In 2012, AMCON acquired a controlling stake in the company and took over the company’s debt. But even AMCON had its share of struggles with the company until the latest turn of event that snowballed into DPAN.
Last week, the acting managing director of DPAN, Engr. Ibrahim Issa Gachi, reiterated that the Dangote Peugeot Automobile Nigeria was conceived following a failed bid to acquire AMCON’s share in PAN in 2016.
“Some members of the consortium that made the bid, Kaduna State Government, Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) and PSA Groupe incorporated DPAN and took a decision to build a plant in Kaduna for the assembly of Peugeot brand of vehicles,” he explained recently while speaking with Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
The PSA Groupe is a multinational manufacturer of famous automobiles brands – Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall. Peugeot is the largest PSA brand worldwide. What is DPAN’s intent? Gachi said, “DPAN’s objective is to have vehicle assembly operations with increasing local content incorporation. We will start with semi-knocked-down (SKD) and completely-knocked-down stages. With this transition, we are going to gradually source vehicle components from local auxiliary companies. The Peugeot brand has achieved the highest local content development among all other vehicles being manufactured in Nigeria.”
Consequent upon this development, PAN inevitably lost its franchise to produce Peugeot vehicles in its Kakuri, Kaduna plant again. Would DPAN experience more losses now that its ownership structure has changed? This company was birthed in Kaduna as far back as 1972 via a partnership relationship between the Nigerian government and its parent body, PSA Groupe.
Over this stretch of years, Peugeot gained prestige as the official car of the government of Nigeria. It survived various shapes of hardships, due to the continued huge patronage of the brand by government and Nigerians. Would this situation still remain same with the major acquisition of PAN by a private enterprise, Dangote Industries Limited? The acting managing director of DPAN believes that the present ownership structure of the company is inconsequential in this regard. Hear him: “The Peugeot brand fulfils the fundamental needs for ruggedness, endurance and is aimed at customers who desire a reliable vehicle in every circumstance. These are some of the factors that made the government to choose Peugeot as official car of the government. Government MDAs are still patronising the Peugeot brand and we are optimistic that government will soon revert back to that situation.”
Gachi further emphasised that patronage of locally-produced vehicles by the government is a strong signal that indicates a mark of confidence in the industry: “It also shows that government is serious about job and wealth creation and technological development.”
With every day, Nigeria is increasingly becoming a market for foreign used vehicles. Nigerians by and large are lovers of cars. But a larger percentage of the country’s population can barely afford new cars because they are too expensive. So, this fraction of Nigerians resort to neatly used versions of same brands of cars they desire that are still efficient, and have matching qualities, features and at cheaper prices. The tokunbo versions exist for almost all the new cars available in the automobile market.
Peugeot’s range of products is far beyond most Nigerians’level of affordability. Some of its popular models, 206, 306, 307, 406, 607 and Partner, among others, are deemed expensive. Nigerians desire new cars. What plans does DPAN have to enable the Nigerian people own new cars at cheaper rates? The acting managing director affirmed that the company has a combination of brands to cater for the various classes of Nigerians.
“We have a combination of the luxury cars and those cars that will be affordable to middle income earners; however, research indicates that great percentage of Nigerians cannot afford to own a new car without some form of support. DPAN will market brand new Peugeot vehicles to the entire public via a special scheme that will entail banks offering to finance these vehicles at lower interest rates than are available ordinarily,” he explained.
According to Gachi, DPAN’s new assembly plant is projected to start at an average of 15 cars per day to be increased to 40 cars a day over a period of three to four years. Our plans are to initially have a 120 cars per day maximum capacity in shifts with a room for expansion based on demand.
The company has concluded plans to key into strategic priorities such as the development of industrial skills and maintenance of high quality standards. DPAN is geared to provide job opportunities and in collaboration with Automobile Peugeot, France, will have an extensive manpower development programmes, both local and international.
Gachi also stated that the firm would work towards filling the skills gaps by ensuring all lower skilled and mid-skilled roles are immediately filled by Nigerians and establish concrete plans to staff high-skilled positions with Nigerians in our first year of operation.
“Having a strong product and process standards are essential to promoting Nigerian exports and providing confidence to domestic consumers, which the Peugeot brand is known to have is also key; and DPAN is going to re-emphasize on these,” he said.
The first Peugeot vehicle of DPAN should come out soon. Peugeot Automobile Nigeria is professed by many as the bedrock of Nigeria’s automobile industry. DPAN should strive to excellently sustain this evident and highly desirable positioning of the prestigious Peugeot brand.
Dufil out with Indomie Relish
Dufil Prima Foods, makers of Indomie instant noodles, has introduced its new line extension, Indomie Relish, into the Port Harcourt market.
Indomie Relish offers a complete meal experience with real chicken and sausage chunks in the chicken flavour packs and real fish chunks and fish powder in the seafood flavour packs. It provides all ingredients that make a meal complete like tomato and onion sauce, dried pepper, seasoning powder and oil.
Speaking during the launch in Port Harcourt, the product manager, Indomie Relish, Ginny Tewatia, disclosed that no chemical was added to preserve the real chicken, fish and hot dog chunks contained in the two flavours of Indomie Relish.
Tewatia said: “Indomie stands for providing products with highest quality and Indomie Relish has stood firm on this guiding principle. Real meat used in Indomie Relish lasts longer because of technology called “freeze drying” and not by adding preservatives and chemicals. It is a process by which moisture is reduced by freezing the meat at extremely low temperature and removing the frozen moisture from the meat. Low temperature freezing reduces the bacteria and moisture thereby increasing the shelf life. When the water is added to the meat, it regains original texture and taste because there are no additional artificial additives added to it. We did this to give consumers the fresh taste of chicken and hotdog or seafood, depending on their preferences.”
The high points of the launch were the dry and wet samplings of the brand.