Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, PAN, has concluded arrangements to restart its plant in June with a target production of 3,000 cars.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of PAN, Ibrahim Boyi, told Businessday that the restarting of the plant was made possible by a number of factors, chief among which is the federal government’s automobile development policy unveiled last year.
Boyi said the new management of PAN faced tremendous challenges when it assumed office five months ago, but expressed confidence that today the company’s fortunes were being turned around for better.
“When we came in one of the biggest problems was the pulling out of Peugeot France from the company, another of the problems was lack of sufficient structures for after sales and short chain of the dealership network,” Boyi said.
“Internally, there were a lot of morale issues, the company has not been performing well, some of our good quality staff have left the system, some others were just looking for opportunity because they didn’t see a future in the company.
“ But I’m glad to say that today, most of these things have changed. When we came in, my first priority was to make sure that Peugeot as a brand is back to the market, and that we have the full support and assistance of Peugeot France. So I’m glad to announce today that we have already signed a new agreement with Automobile Peugeot France as importers and distributors of the products and the spare parts.
“We have also carried out a comprehensive audit of dealership, the reason of the audit was to review the situation, what are the gaps and why are they not in a position to satisfy the customers. And we found a lot of gaps in most of the dealership and we have agreed to have programmes with them to turn around and re-equip the dealership to be able to support the customers in terms of after sales support and spare parts.
“The staff themselves, today I believe we have undertaken a lot of initiatives within the organization .There is a new drive in the company , a new belief in the future of the company, staff today are a lot more confident of the future of the organization as it was some five months ago. And I know that is very positive for the company because it has now re-focused the minds of the staff towards the growth and development of the company.”
On the restarting of the plant, Boyi said: “we are back in full and also with the new auto development plan, remember when we met, we were canvassing for that kind of protection from the government, I think two or three days after, the government happily announced the auto development plan. Obviously we are one of the major beneficiaries, to key into it.
“And I’m happy to announce it to you today that our plant will re-start activities in June this year. So we have achieved most of the targets that we have set for ourselves within the last five months and our customers can only be in for better service, better customer satisfaction and we are offering then excellent products today that will compete with any brand in the market.”
Boyi said the restarting of the plant would create job opportunities for hundreds of ex-workers, while thousands of indirect employment would be provided for Nigerians.
The PAN Managing Director however said there is need for greater commitment and consistency in the implementation of the federal government policy as the company had packaged a strategic long term development plan and about to unfold a service chain in partnership with other stakeholders for the good of the economy.
“We are in the process of recruiting new sales people because now we are regaining the market, we are re-building our market so we need to employ more people and this is the whole objective we have.
“PAN had more than 2000 workers before, today we have about 250 and our intention is to continue to grow this company, continue to bring in most of these people that had gone out. As long as you left PAN on a clean slate, and today we are looking for people with skills, we rather take you than go and bring somebody new into the system. Already we have started, with this round of recruitment we are doing, a lot of our ex-staff have expressed interest, we can assure you some of them would come back to the company,” Boyi said.
On the aspect of the policy that touched on Tokunbo vehicles, Boyi said: “Even for us, we must understand that we need to create a balance. Today if you say you will ban importation of Tokunbo, definitely a lot of Nigerians will not be able to buy cars because all the new cars in Nigeria, are maybe three million naira and above. People think they can get Tokunbo even with the increased duty, Tokunbo can land even with 1.5 or 1.6.
“I think if we can allow the policy to go like that, customers will start to make informed choices. Will you rather put 1.8 million naira and buy a Tokunbo or make it to 3 million to buy a brand new car? When you think of all the troubles that you will avoid from buying a Tokunbo, it might be better for you to make up the decision, to make the move and buy a new car.
“ And more than that, this is what I always tell people, you see market has a way of addressing issues. If you know the successes of the market today, Tokunbo cars constitute almost 75 percent of all the car imports in Nigeria.
“Now if that is the case, every manufacturer of vehicle would have to target that market. So the only way you can penetrate that market is through pricing. In giving them brand new cars, affordable prices, I can assure you we would all rise to that occasion”.