Job Losses, Factory Closures Loom As Unsold Goods Pile Up Man

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job losses factory closures loom as unsold goods pile up man

By Yinka Kolawole

AGAINST the backdrop of sustained pressure in the foreign exchange market and high cost of production, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN has indicated that inventory of unsold goods is escalating to levels now threatening the existence of companies operating in the production sector of the economy with attendant job losses.

Financial Vanguards findings show that as of the weekend the foreign exchange market had recorded over 254 per cent plunge in the value of the naira since flotation of the currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2023.

Recall that the naira traded for N471 per dollar in the official I E market on June 13, 2023 before the floatation of the currency, but exchanged for N1,665.50 to a dollar as at February 23, 2024 on the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), indicating a depreciation of more than 253.6 per cent over the eight-month period. The forex crisis is also stoking inflation, and coupled with high energy costs, purchasing power has continued plummet, stifling demand for goods.

Stockpiled warehouses

Speaking on the impact of this development on the manufacturing sector, Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said: There are reports that across the board, many warehouses and plants of many manufacturing firms are stockpiled with unsold goods manufactured last year. The development is as a result of the devastating effects of the exchange rate crisis, inflation, fake and sub-standard goods, smuggling and other macro-economics challenges.

These had put many manufacturers in a great dilemma in the current year as they are applying brakes on production by watching keenly events in the country to know if there would be improvement in sales in order to create space for fresh production for the year. Ajayi-Kadir warned that manufacturers may be forced to halt making new products, leading to workforce down-sizing, since production lines are becoming inactive. The continued naira depreciation against the dollar, and the general forex volatility were forcing manufacturers to have a rethink. No genuine manufacturer could operate successfully and make profit under the current scenario, whereby the naira has been falling sharply more than expected in the country, he stated.

Highlighting challenges in accessing foreign exchange (forex), Ajayi-Kadir disclosed that manufacturers primarily obtain forex through Bureaux De Change (BDCs), noting that banks typically offer less than 20 per cent of the required amount. No respite yet There seems to be no respite in sight as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the exchange rate of the Naira may further depreciate by about 35 per cent this year, adding that this could lead to inflation rate peaking at 44 per cent.

Given the absence of local production and the recent liberalization of commodity imports, the exchange rate would likely depreciate further - by an estimated 35 per cent in 2024 - and contribute to a further sharp rise in inflation, peaking at 44 per cent, before monetary policy is eventually tightened sharply, IMF stated in its February 2024 Post-Financing Assessment and Staff Report.

Financial Vanguard reports that manufacturing companies have been adopting diverse responses to the situation. A good number of them have been investing in backward integration for sourcing raw materials locally instead of imports that strangulate their finances due to the high exchange rate and scarcity of foreign currency. But some of the manufacturers are scaling down their operations while many have actually suspended operations.

Companies woes Against the backdrop of the forex crisis, Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc recently issued a new price review notification to all its customers in the West Zone. In the notice to its consumers, NB said: This is to inform you that we are constrained to review the prices of some of our stock keeping units (SKUs) with effect from Monday 19th February, 2024. This review has become necessary because of continued rising input costs and the need to mitigate the impact.

SKU is a unique identifier used to track inventory within a business. Nigerian Breweries produces major alcoholic beverages like Star Lager, Gulder, Legend Extra Stout, Heineken, Goldberg, Life, and Star Radler amongst others. It also produces non-alcoholic drinks like Maltina, Amstel Malta, Fayrouz, Climax Energy drink, and Malta Gold. In a related development, in December 2023, Procter Gamble (P G) said it was leaving Nigeria, after just opening its diaper production line worth $300 million in Lagos in 2017. Other global conglomerates that have announced their exit from the country in the recent past include GSK Plc, Bayer AG and Sanofi SA.

Also last year, Unilever Plc cut some of the products manufactured in Nigeria, while Nestle SA has posted losses from its operations. The main reason for the exodus of these conglo