Despite its public repudiation of insinuations that it may soon be exiting the Nigerian market, PZ Cussons, a leading player in the Consumer Goods sector of the Nigerian economy, is finding it difficult getting its audience to believe it.
Since the story broke at the end of the year that the global multinational conglomerate with tentacles in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and North America, may be considering pulling out of the Nigerian market on account of ‘difficult operating conditions,’ the spokespersons of the firm which has operated in Nigeria in the past 120 years have not rested.
In a chat with Business Hallmark, Tahir Mohammed, General Manager, External and Regulatory Affairs at PZ Cussons Nigeria, insisted (for the umpteenth time) that there was actually no truth in the rumour:
‘It is not true. We are here and remaining here. You can send your people around. Let them go to our production centres at Aba and Ikorodu. All of our factories are working. Our plants are open. We have been here for years. And we are remaining here. We are not going anywhere.’
Mohammed’s distress on the subject is understandable. But so also are the concerns of Nigerians. A decade ago, the long established dominant tyre manufacturer in the country, Dunlop Plc seemed to be a permanent fixture on the Nigerian business firmament. It had been a pioneer in its field and an old hand at that, having been listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1961. Not so today. And its exit had actually begun as a rumour – that was equally repudiated! But then it shortly after its 2008 AGM began to scale down its operations. Six months later it closed shop.
But Mohammed has additional reasons why his organisation should be believed over its insistence that there is no Dunlop fate for it:
‘The PZ Nigeria business is extremely very important to the group. It is the biggest in Africa and is most treasured. To spin it then would therefore be like cutting your face to spite your nose. That would not be a wise thing to do and we cannot do it.’
For good measure, Mohammed is not the only PZ Cussons Nigeria official who is responding to the rumour. Indeed, his defence of the brand is a restatement, and an elaboration upon an earlier official note from the company in response to the exit rumour.
In that correspondence which was entitled ‘PZ Cussons is not leaving Nigeria’ and signed by Christos Giannopoulos, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, PZ Cussons Nigeria PLC, the firm had stated:
“It has come to our notice that a headline is circulating within social media claiming that ‘PZ Cussons is leaving Nigeria as a result of the tough condition’. This headline is totally false and misleading and creates the impression that PZ has decided to leave Nigeria.”
Bringing perspective to the matter, Giannopoulos tried to put the ‘contentious statement’ that the PZ Cussons Group had filed at the London Stock Exchange and which was the primary fuel for the speculative reports that followed in better light.