Retail business: Who Is Taking The Lead?

In years gone by, big names in the retail business in Nigeria were Kingsway Stores, Challerams, Kewalrams and UTC Stores. They were the places to go for shopping, especially by the well-to-do members of the society. Then came the economic down turn, coupled with mismanagement on the part of the owners or managers. And, one after the other, the big names fell by the way side.

With the current turnaround in the Nigerian economy, which is evident in the fact that it is now the largest in Africa and 26th in the world, retail business in the country is experiencing a boom once again. The establishment and spread of new names in the sector is proof. The list of the current leading players includes such big names as Shoprite, Just Rite, SPAR, PEP and Gamestore. And there are few others that now dot the major cities, signalling a favourable investment climate in that sector.

Shoprite, the South African brand, is the undisputed leader, with outlets strategically located in choice areas in major cities like Abuja, Ilorin, Lagos, Enugu, Kano and Ibadan.

The brand’s number one position is currently being threatened by SPAR, also a major competitor. The latter has lately been spending heavily on media campaigns to appeal to shoppers, hinging its offering on low prices. The company also leverages on its partnership with manufacturers and marketers of computers and household products like HP Computer, Chi, Peak Milk and other consumer goods to woo shoppers. SPAR also offers shoppers opportunity to walk into any of its stores and buy at highly discounted prices that may not be offered by any of its competitors.

In addition, for every product bought, the shop offers a gift voucher to the shopper. For example, shoppers that buy any of the available HP laptops in any of its retail outlets are given a N3, 000 shopping voucher. Not only that, the retail store also gives same amount of shopping voucher to shoppers who flash a given mobile number advertised in some newspaper.

If Shoprite has an answer to SPAR, there is also the PEP challenge that is equally formidable. PEP is also coming up stronger. It has chosen to compete by facing and meeting the desires and demands of all ages, from infants to adults, for quality and affordable clothes and clothing materials.

The ability to offer a range of quality products while maintaining the lowest prices seems to have paved the way for shoppers to identify with PEP, as most people who could have opted for the bend down select alternatives in places like Aswani and Gatan Kowa markets in Lagos, now have a more dignifying mall in PEP.

Omobolanle Adetayo, a mother of two who patronizes PEP, told Brands & Visibility that the store affords her the opportunity to buy quality baby wears at very cheap prices.

“Their product is cheap; they have good baby wears,” she says. “What seems surprising is the fact that PEP products are not common, yet they sell at cheaper prices.” She said she would continue to patronize the store, rather than visit other malls where similar products are sold.

Adetayo’s position seems to be reflective of those of other shoppers who have found solace in the store. A visit to the PEP store on Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Lagos, confirms her position.

Shopping at these stores no doubt has given their customers some sense of pride, confidence and perceived comfort. These are sure ingredients of building a brand’s image as well as enhancing and boosting the customers’ confidence, continued patronage and unhindered loyalty. They ultimately often result in a lifelong of repeat patronage; just as they are also very formidable pillars of referrals.

Among those that will gain from the presence of the retail stores in the country are local manufacturers and suppliers in the country. Some of the stores like Shoprite buy in bulk from local suppliers in order that customers may also buy at cheaper prices, while they still enjoy a world class shopping experience.

“Shopping at these stores no doubt has given their customers some sense of pride, confidence and perceived comfort. These are sure ingredients of building a brand’s image as well as enhancing and boosting the customers’ confidence, continued patronage and unhindered loyalty. They ultimately often result in a lifelong of repeat patronage; just as they are also very formidable pillars of referrals.”

The cheering news about Shoprite, undoubtedly the one with the leadership cap of the pack of retail shops in Nigeria, is that it has also joined the league of organisations that are deeply committed to social responsibility engagements. For instance, Shoprite is known for its “Change A Life” campaign established to enrich the lives of many under-privileged children and youths in Nigeria. The campaign started in December 2010, and has assisted various orphanages and foundations such as the Red Cross in Nigeria and the SOS Children’s Village.

It is recommended that other leading retail stores should strive to emulate this by embarking on some corporate social responsibility programmes that will be beneficial to the society, especially the immediate communities where they have their outlets, and the nation as a whole.

Expansion of the retail stores will also add to, and boost job creation opportunities across the country. Perhaps this is one major reason most states are encouraging promoters of retail shops to consider having outlets in their major towns. In some cases, governments at the state level are partners with the shop owners.

However, as laudable as this development may be, it is important that the relevant agencies of government take steps that will guarantee that workers, especially Nigerians, are not unduly exploited and taken undue advantage of.

Having gained customer loyalty and confidence and with increase in revenue, it is expected that these stores also contribute to the development of their host communities.

“Expansion of the retail stores will also add to, and boost job creation opportunities across the country. Perhaps this is one major reason most states are encouraging promoters of retail shops to consider having outlets in their major towns. In some cases, government at the state level are partners with the shop owners.”

Shoprite and SPAR, and indeed all other retail stores, practically offer the same product range including food and grocery, wines and spirits, butchery and bakery, fruits and vegetable, electronics, IT products, mobile phones, furniture, fashion and lifestyle products. However, each of them seems to have identified a niche, one that separates it from the others, whether in terms of pricing, delivery strategy, or concentration of product offerings.

Truth is, the race is on, one more time, for retail stores in Nigeria. The focus is, however, not necessarily which of them eventually becomes the market leader, but how their efforts will ultimately affect both the Nigerian society and the nation’s economy.

 

 

 

Ibrahim Olalekan is a media writer and specialist. His enormous task as journalist has earned him media space in some leading online newspapers. Aside being a seasoned journalist, Olalekan has keen interest in advocacy, rural development and politics. Olalekan is a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, and can be reach via: ibrahimolalekan001@yahoo.com or +2348101988313 and @lekanpaul

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