Woolworths is back to Nigeria. But this time as an offspring of a multi million dollar strategic joint venture of listed Nigeria company, Chellarams Plc and Woolworths, a top South African retailer. Christened after the latter partner, Woolworths Retail Stores Nigeria Limited in a space of a week commissioned two vast retail outlets in Ikeja City Mall, Alausa and Palms in Victoria Island.
The company is set to open another store shortly at Polo Park in Enugu and seven more stores within the next two years in various parts of the country.
Speaking to the media shortly before the commissioning ceremony of the Ikeja City Mall Woolworth retail store, Woolworths Divisional Executive of the International division, Mr. John Fraser noted that there is there is a strong market in Nigeria.
‘We are excited to come to Nigeria, though there are infrastructure issues but the market is here,’ he stated.
Elated at the take-off of the collaborative venture, Fraser and the Group Managing Director of Chellarams, Mr. Aditya Chellarams, expressed optimism in the dual transaction.
‘We have found the right partner in Chellarams to grow the Woolworths brand in Nigeria. Our partnership means we can deliver to customers the best retail offering possible tailored to local market needs. Our partners bring knowledge of local trading conditions and we bring the quality, value, innovation and fashion our South Africa customers know and appreciate. It is the best of both worlds,’ Fraser said.
He added that the company was confident of its investment in Nigeria and was very pleased with the growth prospects of the Nigerian market.
According to him, joint ventures with local partners, such as Chellarams, is the new business model for Woolworths’ expansion plans in other African countries. ‘We have moved away from the franchise model we had in some African countries. It is not only a better profit model for Woolworths, but it is also better for customers,’ Fraser said.
On his part, Chellarams Group MD said the joint venture was another milestone in the company’s efforts to diversify.
The Chairman, Chellarams Group, Asiwaju Solomon Onafowoka added, ‘We are excited that we are bringing Woolworths back to Nigeria. We had won the franchise in 2002 but later shut down due to import restriction. But now we have joint venture, which is a better arrangement. Customers can now look forward to a larger selection of fashion and general merchandise that suit their needs. These include formal wear, casual wear, beauty products and home furnishing that are fashionable and trendy for men and women and children’.
According to Fraser, the new stores like every other Woolworths store irrespective of the location offer a selection of Woolworths beautifully made and stylish things for the home, from attractive, easy-care bed linen to stylish dÃ©cor items as well as a selection from an extensive range of own-label fragrances and bath & body products.
‘All Woolworths beauty ranges are formulated according to Woolworths Good Beauty principles, which means all ingredients are mild and gentle, no mineral oils or petrochemical ingredients are used, and every product has been thoroughly assessed by Woolies’ technologists to ensure that they’re safe to use,’ the company assured.
Chellarams, which was established in Nigeria in 1923, is a diversified organisation with operations in wholesale & distribution, manufacturing, engineering, tourism, quick-service restaurants and power generation.