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‘How we are producing top-notch duvet’

Chinedu explained that after his apprenticeship in Benin,

One of the most popular sections of the Wuse Market belongs to the men and women who are into the production and sale of duvet, bedsheets and bedding accessories. Daily Trust spoke to some of them on their daily activities in that line of business and how lucrative their business is.

Of all the markets in Abuja, Wuse Market is the most populated. The market is filled with men and women plying different trades as well as different sections like foodstuff, clothings, household items, electrical/electronics, hairdressing etc.

Nonetheless, a popular section of the market belongs to the men and women who are into interior decoration which includes making of duvets, blankets, bedsheets, curtains etc.

The area is always a beehive of activities. Customers who want to buy bedsheets, duvets, curtains for their homes, hotels, etc always besiege the section of the market. The men and women who are into this trade are also big suppliers of supermarkets and stores where bedsheets, duvets and curtains are sold.

Victor Jerome, who has been in this line of business at Wuse Market since 2002, told Daily Trust that the business is a very profitable one. “I’ve been in this business for a period of 20 years and I can tell you that it’s a lucrative business,” he said.

Chinedu Chiazor, who is also in the same line of business corroborates Jerome’s stance, as he has been in the business for a period of 30 years and has become very passionate about what he does.

Chinedu explained that after his apprenticeship in Benin, he decided to move to Abuja to start up his trade here. “When I finished working with my boss, I decided to relocate because I knew that Benin will not give me the market audience I was targeting, so I moved to Abuja and start my own business,” he said.

To give his clients the best quality, Victor says he uses fibre for his duvets and sources other materials from America and sometimes China.

“The best quality of cotton used for beddings come from America, although sometimes if I do not have enough money, I source my material from China.

The general name given to the kind of cotton gotten from China is ‘Big Brother’ and this is commonly available in the market because it is relatively cheap compared to the cotton gotten from America,” he said.

Like Victor, Chinedu also sources for his materials from China. He said he uses Polish cotton gotten from China to make his duvets and blankets.

He further explained that “In China, we buy a meter of material for 14 Yuan, which is the equivalent of N900. A meter is more than a yard by 3 inches, so buying 10 meters will give you one extra yard. Here in Wuse Market, the big brother cotton goes for N600 per yard,” he said.

Victor further explained that “it takes 7 yards to make a 6×7 duvet, a yard of the cotton we use sells between N1000 and N1500. We buy a yard of fibre for N1000, sometimes N1200. For the sewing, we charge N2000 regardless of what size of duvet the client is sewing.”

However, Victor also has already-made blankets for customers who prefer them. “If you want to purchase a full set which includes the bedsheets, pillow case, duvet cover and duvet, that sells between N20,000 and N25,000,” he said.

At Chinedu’s shop, the selling price for an already made duvet is N20,300 and this comes without the bedsheets, pillow case and duvet. However, customers can also walk in and pick the print design they want and have their duvets customized for them.

He told Daily Trust that “The kind of material the customer picks determines how much the duvet will cost. If we are to sew a king size single fibre duvet, we charge 1000. If it’s a double fibre duvet, we charge N1500”. However, Chinedu did say the price varies depending on if the customer is a final user or intends to resell the product.

Victor discloses that having to pick and customise a duvet is more expensive than buying one that has been already made. “The end result maybe more satisfying but ordering a custom-made duvet will cost you more than getting one that has been sewn already. You first of all have to pick the grade of material you want, the design you want and the size you want before it can be sewn,” Victor said.

Because Victor sticks to the cotton gotten from America, his customers are assured of receiving quality and long-lasting product from him. “Most of the duvets and beddings we sell are of top-notch quality and when taken care of can last 4 to 5 years in the hands of the client,” he said.

“Although people here in Nigeria prefer to patronise a product when it is foreign, I’m blessed to say that there’s still a percentage of people willing to buy the duvets we make. Most of my customers are women who like to change things in their homes and don’t like to repeat beddings over a long period of time,” he said.

Chinedu takes pride in mentioning that he has been able to serve his customers with the best of the best quality of duvets and that is why he has a large customer base. He often sells to hotels in bulk and also to people outside the country. “My customers know I use the best materials for my duvets; the quality has always been the same and there has never been an error in production.”

Victor has a number of apprentices who train under him and assist in the sewing and making of the bedsheets and duvets. “I have a lot of people who come to me to learn how to sew; they also work for me in the process and earn a living for themselves,” he said.

He said with proper machinery, he and his apprentices are able to make at least 4 or 5 king size duvets in a day.

Even with all the profits that are being made, Victor noted that the increase in exchange rate has really affected the cost of production in his business.

They explained that “this year, we had to increase the price of our goods because things were becoming too expensive. The bedding sets that go for N25,000 now were going for N16,000. Even the machines we use for our work increased from N70,000 last year to N140,000 now.”

Chinedu also disclosed that the Customs fees being paid to clear the goods at the ports are exceedingly high and does not give room for business owners to make much profit as they should.

“When I move my goods from one city to another in China, I pay between N60,000 and N70,000. However, in Nigeria you spend almost N300,000 to only clear your goods and still have to pay another huge sum of money to have the goods transported from one point to another,” he said.

He said constant electricity can also boost efficiency in their business. “The industrial machines we use to sew the duvet work with electricity. If there’s no light, production will be slowed down.

If we use the industrial machines, we can sew at least 10 duvets in a day and the result looks better than sewing with the manual machines,” he said.

He also raised concerns over the fact that Wuse market needs better internet coverage. “The warehouses and markets I visit in China have internet services made available to them, which helps to make the work easier in terms of research for designs and print.

If we can have such services rendered here in the Wuse market, sales and profits are bound to be made both offline and online,” he said.

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