Guinness Nigeria Plc, on Tuesday commissioned a new spirits production line in its Benin City facility. The new line, which is valued at £12m (N4.8bn), will enable the company to produce previously imported spirits locally.
Speaking at the unveiling of the new line, the Chairman of the Board of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Babatunde Savage, disclosed that the company had a long history in Nigeria and in Benin since it built its brewery in 1974. He noted that the production line, with a design capacity of 1.2m cases and the first of its kind in Nigeria, would offer a wider opportunity to provide quality products for its numerous customers.
“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 January 1, 2016, we also took over the distribution rights of Diageo’s 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 company in Nigeria,” Savage said.
While giving his opening remarks at the event, the President of Diageo Africa, John O’Keeffe noted that the new investment highlights the importance of Edo market to the company, adding that it would further strengthen its local materials such as sorghum and maize.
“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 Diageo’s ambition to get LRM sourcing across the continent to 80% by 2020 and I believe we are on track to achieve this,” he said.
L-R President, Diageo Africa, Mr. John Okeeffe; Chairman of the Board, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Babatunde Savage; Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; Managing Director/CEO of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Peter Ndegwa at the commissioning of Guinness Nigeria Plc’s new spirit production line in Benin City, Edo State – November 22, 2016
For his part, the newly sworn in Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, said that as part of his campaign promise to create 200,000 jobs in four years, he would like to partner with Guinness Nigeria in providing land and growing some of the firm’s needed raw materials in the state.
“Benin is home to Guinness and for us, you are our partners and we will take our partnership seriously. I am very happy to be associated with Guinness and excited that one of my corporate functions as a governor is to commission the Spirit Production Line of the factory.
“As part of the outsourcing, we would like to partner with you or your suppliers to make land available, create incentives for production and get a lot of our young people to begin to cultivate some of the base products like cassava and some of the grains you require for your production. In so doing, we will also create incentives to ensure that they are competitive in the prices they give to your company,” Obaseki said.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Peter Ndegwa thanked the Edo State Governor, congratulating him on his election at the polls and said that the company has an existing cordial relationship with Edo State, which is to be sustained, hence he thanked the governor, the government and the company’s distributors.
In attendance at the event were Edo State top government officials, including the Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu; Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Barr. Osarodion Ogie; Edo State Head of Service, Mrs. Gladys Idahor and the Chief of Staff, Edo State Government, Mr. Taiwo Akerele.
Governor Obaseki hinted that the Ramat Park in Benin City will be christened Guinness Ramat Park.