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Economic downturn: Cap, perfume biz suffering in Kaduna

A man, especially a Northerner, feels incomplete if he does not put on a traditional cap to complement his northern attire, while a woman cannot…

A man, especially a Northerner, feels incomplete if he does not put on a traditional cap to complement his northern attire, while a woman cannot leave her house without spraying some perfume.
With this, one would think people in the business of selling perfumes or caps are smiling to the bank every day. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Kaduna State is said to be a hub for investment, being a central city to many major cities in the country. Many indigenes and non-indigenes take advantage of the influx of people passing through the state to transact one business or the other. However, Daily Trust learnt that all is not rosy, as businesses are struggling to survive as a result of the dwindling economy. Many businesses have had to close down due to lack of patronage, while the ones still existing are running at a loss.
In 2001, the management of Al-Muhamsay Ventures made an investment in sales of traditional caps mostly worn by Northerners, called Zannah. It is a cap specifically made by the locals in Maidiguri, Borno State and is arguably the most preferred cap of Northerners. “It is also a little expensive,” the Manager, Hamisu Umar said. Located along Waff Road, one of the most popular in the city, he recalled that business was good for the first four years, as customers trooped in to either buy some items or make enquiries. But today, the tables have turned and this is not unconnected to the Nigerian economy that is taking a toll on most business in the country.
“Low patronage is our major challenge. We used to have more patronage from two thousand and three to two thousand and five, especially during the month of Ramandan, knowing that Sallah is around the corner. If it was during that time you came to this shop, you will see a lot of customers waiting to be attended too, but today, you can see the situation is different and the place is empty,” he said, adding that people are already finding it hard to eat three square meals a day, not to talk of buying caps or clothes for Sallah.”
But where do they get their caps? Umar explained that they get them from Maidiguri. “We do not personally go to buy them. They bring them to us,” he said, adding that they cost between N7, 500 to N25, 000, depending on the design and quality.
So what is the way forward for Nigerian businesses? Umar said it is not solely the responsibility of the government, but what the government ought to do is create an enabling environment for business to thrive.
Umar however, advised Nigerians to stop buying unnecessary items. “People spend money on material things they do not need, and if Nigerians continue to spend that way, the country is heading for doom, because the unemployed youth will dabble into stealing to have that kind of life.”
On her part, Hajiya Farida Aminu, the owner of Farrah Collections, located along Independence Way, Kaduna, who has been into perfume business for the past ten years, business has never been as bad as it is today.
“I have been in this business for over ten years. Everyone knows that in business, you win some and lose some, but in this case, the loss is overwhelming. I have had to put my products up for sale at half the price, just to get them off the shelf.”
“You know perfume is just like electronics, new ones are always coming in and in order to compete favourably, I have to have the latest so that people will see reason to come to my shop. But if all I have is old stock, no one will come and my business will definitely crash more than it has already,” she said.
Hajiya Farida added that another challenge is foreign exchange, which has been a major setback for her, because “most, if not all my perfumes, are brought in from other countries and I need foreign exchange to do that. In fact, there are a lot of my merchandise that is stranded because I do not have the exchange to pay for them and bring them in.” As a result of this, she sells designer perfumes because it is what her customers prefer. These are quite expensive and cost between N10, 000 to N50, 000, depending on the designer and the year it was produced.
She called on government at all levels to find lasting solution to the problem.

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