By Dipo Olowookere
In a move aimed at reducing the import dependent profile of the Nigerian economy, creating more jobs and boosting the local sourcing of raw materials, leading manufacturer and Nigeria’s only total alcohol beverage company, Guinness Nigeria Plc, has commissioned a new production line that will support the local manufacturing of some of its spirits brands in Nigeria.
Some of the brands to be manufactured locally include Smirnoff X1 intense chocolate vodka, Smirnoff Extra Smooth Vodka, Gordon’s Dry Gin, Moringa Citrus Blend, McDowell’s No. 1 Reserved Whisky, McDowell’s VSOP and Royal Challenge Finest Premium Whisky.
The production line, with a design capacity of 1.2 million cases, is located within the Guinness Brewery, Ikpoba Hill, Benin city.
It was commissioned by the Executive Governor of Edo state, Mr Godwin Obaseki at amidst pomp, fanfare and commendation for this landmark stride by Guinness Nigeria.
Governor Obaseki, who nostalgically recalled his long personal relationship with the brand as a stockbroker, commended the board and management of Guinness Nigeria for this feat, and urged other companies to see the current economic recession as an opportunity for backward integration and expansion of their business horizons.
“This is a company I am very close to and very fond of, and so, I am quite excited that one of my first official corporate functions as Governor is to commission the new spirits line for the company.
“We are very pleased that Guinness is part of the landscape of Benin and Edo State, and has been so since 1974.
“And so, for us, you are a partner, and as a state, we will take our partnership very seriously. Even though the economic environment in Nigeria today is quite challenging and difficult, for us in Edo State, we see opportunities embedded in those challenges,” Mr Obaseki said.
Governor Obaseki also used the occasion to announce that the Edo state government would like to partner with Guinness Nigeria to create a minimum of two hundred thousand jobs over the next four years in line with his administration’s agenda.
In his remarks, Chairman, Guinness Nigeria, Mr Babatunde Savage described the commissioning as part of the company’s rich and prestigious legacy and a testament to its long term commitment to Nigeria.
“Guinness Nigeria has a strong heritage in Nigeria and in Benin since we built our brewery here in 1974 with a robust portfolio of global brands like Guinness and Johnnie Walker to boot.
“Today, we add to that strong heritage with the commissioning of our spirits production line in Nigeria – a first for Guinness Nigeria. With this line, we are now able to produce previously imported spirits locally and we are able to offer a wider variety of products to our consumers at a more affordable price point,” Savage enthused.
Mr Savage also reiterated the company’s commitment to making a marked and positive difference in the lives of Nigerians via strategic social interventions.
“As a responsible corporate citizen, Guinness Nigeria is interested in more than running a profitable business, we are also enriching our communities with investments in the areas of provision of water, health facilities and education scholarships to mention a few.
“As an example, in the water sector to date, we have impacted over 1.5million people in Nigeria through the provision of potable water to 25 communities in 14 States across Nigeria,” Mr Savage said.
President, Diageo Africa, Mr John O’Keffe, noted that the commissioning reinforces Guinness Nigeria’s position as the first and only Total Beverage Alcohol (TBA) Company in Nigeria.
“Guinness Nigeria is now able to offer a truly broad portfolio of beer, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks to consumers at every category and price point. Innovation is a competitive advantage for us in this market and we have a strong innovation pipeline with plans to introduce some exciting new products for our consumers to enjoy.
Also our commitment to local sourcing is further strengthened by the commissioning of this plant that will produce preciously imported spirits, using locally supplied raw materials. 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,” Mr O’Keffe mentioned.
Some dignitaries present at the occasion include Managing Director, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr Peter Ndegwa, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright, Edo State Deputy Governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu, Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Osarodion Ogie, Edo State Head of Service, Mrs Gladys Idahor, the Chief of Staff, Edo State Government, Mr Taiwo Akerele.
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