Obaseki Commission’s N4.8bn Guinness Spirits Production Line In Benin
In line with its strategic plans to reduced spending on imports, increase exports and generate foreign exchange, Guinness Nigeria has opened a #4.8 billion spirits production line in Benin City, capital of Edo State.
The plant which is one example of British companies growing their market share in Nigeria, would have raw materials for the production line sourced locally.
The production line has a design capacity of 1,200,000 cases and would produce brands such as Smirnoff X1 intense chocolate vodka, Smirnoff Extra Smooth vodka, Gordon’s Dry Gin, Moringa Citrus Blend, McDowell’s No. 1 Reserved Whisky, McDowell’s VSOP Brand and Royal Challenge Finest Premium Whisky.
Commissioning the production line, Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, commended the company for the vision to expands it’s business in the state, stating that his administration was willing to partner with Guinness in its 200,000 jobs by ensuring the production of cassava that would meet the company’s raw materials needs.
Obaseki while relieving his personal relationship with the company, said he was pleased to perform his first corporate function by commissioning the spirits line of the company.
Recalling that years back, Guinness had spent £300 million to expand its plant in Edo, he noted that Edo government was pleased to have the firm in the state, just as he pledged to work with the brewery firm and other companies in the area of agriculture production.
Earlier in his welcome address Chairman, Board of Directors of Guinness Nigeria PLC, Mr Babatunde Savage, said investments like the one being commissioned form part of a legacy of the company which will outlive it, noting that he feel honoured to be leading the company at this particular moment in time.
According to him, “Guinness Nigeria has a long and prestigious history in Nigeria and in Benin since we built our brewery here in 1974, our history spreads throughout the world with the wonderful history and heritage of our strong portfolio of global brands like Guinness and Johnnie Walker”.
He announced that Diageo Plc, one of the FTSE 100 companies listed on both the London and New York Stock Exchanges is also the world’s leading drinks company with presence in over 180 countries around the world.
“Today, we add to that strong heritage with the commissioning of our spirits production line in Nigeria a first for Guinness Nigeria. With this line, we are now able to produce previously imported spirits locally. What this means is that we are able to offer a wider variety of products to our consumers at a more affordable price point.
“You will recall that on the 1st of January 2016, we also took over the distribution right of Diageos International Premium Spirits (IPS) brands in Nigeria. Now, with this addition of locally manufactured spirits to our portfolio, we are the first and only truly Total Beverage Alcohol (TBA) Company in Nigeria. These developments in our business are testament to our long term commitment to Nigeria and our continuing evolution as a truly Nigerian company, listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange and co-owned by over 70,000 Nigerians”, Savage declared.
He stated that as a responsible corporate citizen, Guinness Nigeria was not only interested in more than running a profitable business, but also to enrich host communities with investments in the areas of provision of water, health care facilities and education scholarships to mention a few.
Giving an example of this, the Guinness Chairman listed the water sector where up to date “we have impacted over 1.5million people in Nigeria through the provision of potable water to 25 communities in 14 States across Nigeria”.
Mr. Savage however, expressed worry on the operating environment which he described as tough, saying he would appreciate more of an enabling environment under which the firm can grow its business, increase the number of employed people directly and indirectly and create shared prosperity for all the stakeholders, shareholders, employees, host communities and the government.
“Our commitment is that we are here to stay. We are committed to Nigeria and to our communities. Our gathering today is to celebrate another milestone in our journey towards building an enduring legacy in Nigeria and I daresay that by Gods grace, we are there”, he declared
Also speaking at the event, President, Diageo Africa – John OKeeffe, said Nigeria remain a very important market for the business, that it is committed to the market and also to continuing to invest in this market.
He reiterated that “todays commissioning reinforces Guinness Nigerias position as the first and only Total Beverage Alcohol (TBA) Company in Nigeria”.
According to him, “With the addition of locally manufactured spirits, Guinness Nigeria is now able to offer a truly broad portfolio of beer, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks to consumers at every category and price point. This is an achievement that we are very proud of”.
He further said: “The use of Local Raw Materials such as sorghum and maize has been part of our business for a number of decades and our commitment to local sourcing is further strengthened by the commissioning of this plant that will produce preciously imported spirits, using locally supplied raw materials. As part of our broader local raw materials (LRM) sourcing, we are looking to increase our locally sourced production inputs to 70% in the coming years and this fits in nicely with the Diageo ambition to get LRM sourcing across the continent to 80% by 2020 and I believe we are on track to achieve this”.
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