So as more people import certain specific goods, it translates into a competition with you
Alhaji Lawal Batagarawa is a Director (non-executive) of PZ International.
He was appointed into the board of the company in 2008. He shares the experiences of the company in the over 131 years it has been in business and the prospects it holds for Nigeria.
PZ is celebrating 125 years of service to Nigerians, how has the journey been?
More than that, PZ was established in 1888 in Serra Leone but it came into Nigeria in 1899. The journey has been good, because from that beginning it is now a multi-national company with headquarters in Manchester, United Kingdom with operations in Africa, Asia, India, Australia and Europe. It is operating in about four continents now.
You have over the years ventured into other areas like electronics, food etc, are you thinking of further diversifying from your core line of business?
PZ has to some extent always been involved in food and beverages right from the word go, so it is not really diversifying into new areas, it is coming back into areas that it has operated in before, but what PZ has done is to look for opportunities for growth especially in Nigeria because even though it is a multi-national company, the largest operation of the company is in Nigeria.
At one point, Nigeria was contributing to more than 50 per cent of the growth income of company and equivalent amount of profit. Up till now, Nigeria is the largest chunk of the entire international business of PZ.
What PZ has done is whenever they see an opportunity to have a joint venture with other companies; they go into it.
The electronics you are talking about is called Haier Patterson Zochonis (HPZ). It is a joint venture between Haier of China and PZ International. That’s what we have in Nigeria and that is what is producing electronics including air conditioners, television sets, fridges and freezers; that’s the electronics component.
How have you fared in the face of competition and increase in the importation of household products?
Well, competition affects each company, but it is how you respond to the competition that matters. So as more people import certain specific goods, it translates into a competition with you; it puts pressure on your value of profit and so to that extent this has affected us. But PZ is a very dynamic company, for every challenge that comes we sit down and look at ourselves and ask how we cope with it so that we continue to survive at the highest level. So the competition is always there.
Your plants have remained only in the southern part of Nigeria, that is Aba and Lagos. With the huge market you have in the North, are you thinking of establishing one here?
We are always looking at how to expand so we have processing and manufacturing plants not just in Lagos and Aba, we are now operating in Cross River as part of the growth strategy, and we have gone into a joint venture with the largest producer of vegetable oil in the world in the name of Wilma International. Wilma is an International company operating out of Singapore; we have gone into joint venture with them for a company called PZ Wilma.
We have a refinery in Lagos but we have a huge plantation that we are developing in Cross River – 60,000 hectares of palm kernel plantation. We are going to expand beyond that and we are in the process of hiring additional land but we are also developing what we call Out-grower Scheme where people with 10 to 15 hectares will be brought in and given seedlings and technical support so that they could expand the production of palm kernel so that the Nigerian farmers get to benefit from this.
What I am saying is that, you have only mentioned two places where we are doing industrial production, but we are in Lagos, in the southeast and we are now in the southwest so the question of coming to the North is all about opportunity, we hope that very soon we will have some plans coming up in the North.
Culled from Daily Trust