Suntory Nigeria to Double Sales on Lucozade, Ribena Growth

(Bloomberg) -- Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd.’s Nigerian unit is seeking to double sales over the next five years by adding products and widening distribution in Africa’s most populous country.

The drinks maker aims to increase sales to 40 billion naira ($111 million) from about 20 billion naira, Managing Director Chinedum Okereke said in a Monday interview in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub. That will increase the unit’s contribution to its Japanese parent’s revenue in Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean to as much as 65 percent, he said.

The West African nation is showing signs of recovery after lower oil prices caused the economy to contract in 2016. Suntory, which bought the local rights to manufacture and distribute Lucozade and Ribena from GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria Plc in 2016, was able to ride out the slump and is now preparing for growth, the executive said.

“We have made a lot of investments in what we call in-store visibility,” he said, adding that he wants consumers to see the company’s drinks in both open markets and new shopping malls.

Suntory Nigeria launched Boost Sachet, a Lucozade brand aimed at those on lower incomes, last year and plans to import new soft drinks, juices, and flavored and vitamin-fortified water brands in the longer term to boost sales, according to Okereke. The idea is that “in almost every shop, in every neighborhood, you see Lucozade and Ribena,” he said.

The company sees sales growing at a double-digit percentage in 2018 after rising by “higher single digits” over the last two years, the MD said. Nigeria’s population of about 200 million, with an emerging middle class, is sufficient motivation for Suntory to invest, he said.

The company is looking to export products to West African countries, beginning with Ghana, according to Okereke. “We have a plan, a very aggressive growth agenda,” he said.

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