Proximity and Price
Project Manager:Joshua Mann
First Master Retailers (FMR) is a Company borne out of in-depth insight into the market of modern trade; addressing a grossly underserved Nigerian market consisting of only six percent of consumption passing through a modern trade environment.
With such an abundance of opportunity available in the market for a Company to tap into, FMR which holds the master franchise rights for DIA and its Nigerian brand Citydia, made the decision to search for a global partner with the technical credentials and expertise to support its exciting enterprise; a partner which they found in Dia Global.
“Our Company philosophy is quite simple, we focus on price and proximity,” explains Valentine Aganbi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Citydia Nigeria. “We believe this is pivotal to unlocking the market and accelerating the transformation from open markets to modernised markets.”
A core focus is placed on creating exactly the same feel in every store, from those in the well-to-do areas, to those in the less affluent areas; in every aspect from the look and cleanliness to the customer service and standards.
Aganbi explains: “If you were to go into any one of our stores and close your eyes, you would feel very much inside of the DNA of a Citydia Nigera store.”
In establishing high standards once, it is able to roll-out that benchmark to be enforced in all Citydia stores, including human relations, technology and the local feel of the store with its high quality and fairly priced products. It is the dedication to consistently replicating itself in the market combined with a progressive approach to competition which sets the Company apart in the industry.
“The idea of competition is very exciting to me, in fact it is music to my ears; there is no amount of money that my shareholders could provide to invest in the market which would enable the transformation we desire, so we need more players not less,” adds Aganbi. “Down the road we will worry about market share, for now it is growing and we want to grow faster, competitors can come along for the exciting ride.”
There are two main sections to the product range, Dia own brand produce and the other national brands which are already well established.
“We have had varying levels of success when introducing Dia own brands into the market, which is to be expected with the need for adaptation time,” Aganbi continues. “We also provide the main brands, the Nestles and Unilever’s of the world; people that come to the store must be able to find what they know, therefore we make sure that we have that covered to touch base with every need in the market.”
When comparing Citydia to its hypermarket competitors, this is a vital component which sets it apart. Inside of a 400 square metre space it is able to contain an excellent mixture which will tend to the neighbourhood needs.
“The most important thing is that we continue to bring in innovations, including those from local vendors that can provide exciting products which are already well known in the open markets. Some of these products can often prompt a nostalgic response as customers experienced them growing up, now we can bring them back to the market in excellent modern packaging,” affirms Aganbi.
Compounding its innovative processes, the Company encourages the development of young entrepreneurs to sell and grow within the safety net of Citydia’s support system. This enables them to upgrade standards in respect to the expectations of the global market, which remains invaluable.
“We are very aware that it is critical to the competitiveness of our brand offerings and pricing that we have a solid value chain. Not only should it be import based but also established and expanding in the local Nigerian markets,” Aganbi states.
Transforming the market
The success Citydia Nigeria has experienced through its solid business model has re-affirmed investor’s belief in the Company, supplying even more money for the stores.
“We’ve invested several millions of dollars in the venture and the board has approved more to continue,” Aganbi says. “With this we have been able to gain world-class furniture in the stores, world-class equipment and refrigeration equipment, and top technology for our headquarters where we have the latest servers and systems to ensure that we are really building a successful network for the future.”
Not only does the Company focus on providing a high-class physical space and selection of produce, it also places a high precedent on its delivery between the warehouse, cold truck and store. Multi-temperature trucks are crucial for the supply chain, maintaining a standing level of freeze which is second to none in the industry.
“Shoppers tell me the reason they come back is the quality of the frozen products,” Aganbi adds. For example, ice cream, you can taste that it hasn’t melted in transit and then refrozen,” he adds. “We don’t compromise if we see that there has been a break in the value chain. Anything that has been compromised we will pull out until we are confident there is no breach in quality. It is important to enforce standards to shoppers, vendors and investors so they know what we value as a Company.”
There is a consistency in the approach of Citydia, and high standards are found throughout every aspect of the business; proving its long-term dedication to transforming the market.
Socially responsible and profit minded
Citydia prides itself on upholding every responsibility that comes with the title of a neighbourhood store, embarking on several initiatives where it provides food and monetary support to orphanages; also providing support to vendors to better themselves.
It is important that the residents in the neighbourhood understand exactly what retail is about as there are numerous areas where the majority of people will never have seen a supermarket.
“People have thanked and prayed for us, they thought that in launching the store it was a true recognition of their humanity and dignity. We aren’t doing these things because of corporate social responsibility, it’s vital to remember that you can be socially responsible while remaining profit minded,” Aganbi interjects. “These people may not earn great sums of money as individuals, but as a group and force they do have the spending power to make Citydia a success.”
With the customers remaining at the forefront of the Company focus, it has been important to stop them having to make the trek out of their neighbourhood, making Citydia’s local emphasis all the more significant. Essentially, the Company holds the values which state that no town is more important than another and it will continue to roll out these stores to the neighbourhoods.
“I believe that over time we will be able to measure the impact of the Company in preventing illness and reducing absentees in students and parents,” Aganbi states.“We think of our business not just in profit, but to be socially responsible in everything that we do, make a profit while doing good, and remembering that if the profit requires you doing anything but good then it’s not worth it.”
In the difficult times that Nigeria has faced, many professionals and businesses could be discouraged from entering the market, however, it is important to remember that the fundamentals are there. People will always need bread, clothing and water, pasta and rice and therefore the primary business drivers are re-building confidence.
“I would say the best is yet to come. We are still encouraged by the future and pressing ahead with our exciting plans; there may be challenges in the short-term but I am standing firm with our ambitions and we are going for it,” concludes Aganbi.