In this interview, Bose Ayeni, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the eatery, talks about the company’s listing, Private Placement (PP), challenges in the industry, its re-branding/expansion strategy and the expectations of investors in the company. Excerpts:
What are the challenges in the food business? In think in terms of challenges, for every Nigerian business, the first and foremost issue is that of power supply, there is no power supply. When this occurs, we rely on generator sets. Of recent, the price of diesel has worsened the situation.
Not only are you contending with replacing your generators, you are also looking at the running cost constantly. This is one major challenge.
Also of recent, we have had cases of armed robbery attacks. Our staff are attacked when they are coming to, or closing from, work. With the rainy season, patronage tends to slow down. These are some of the problems we are contending with.
Apart from the above mentioned, we are contending with lack of skilled workers in the industry. I don’t think we have enough skilled people to man all the outlets and all the businesses that are spring up in this sub sector of the Nigerian economy.
What are your expectations of the capital market as a listed company? I think first and foremost that Tantalizers would command more respect, because it is unusual to find a local company set up the way we are. Coming to list its shares on the floors of the Exchange shows we are moving forward. It has its own challenges, which we must recognise and face.
The fact that we have become a Public Liability Company (PLC) is a major challenge that we need to face. However, I don’t think those challenges are insurmountable. One of them we have already overcome, which is the issue of having two family members on the Board of the company. This has been sorted out.
What edge does Tantalizer have to attract investors? When you are looking at an organisation, you look at its performance, the people behind it. I can only speak for myself, when you look at our organisation, I believe we are much disciplined; which was the reason we have been able to achieve what we have achieved within a short period of time. By nature we are not extravagant in spending. This has helped us to plough back a lot of the resources we have been able to generate from the business.
Therefore, going forward, you can be sure that for the investors; you trust that your money is invested in the hands of people with integrity and discipline in the management of resources and I think that would yield to a very good profit level that would benefit all investors as dividends at the end of the year.
What do you think is the attraction in the food and eatery business? Usually, people don’t know what they are getting into until they are fully involved. Thus, the attractiveness is that when you enter an outlet, everything looks attractive. You see people going in and out. It is like the cover of a book and until you begin to read the book, you wouldn’t know the content.
Therefore, I think that a lot of Nigerians seeing people going and coming out of our outlets, what they are thinking is that the business is a money spinner. But like I know and many of the players in the food and eatery business would confess to you, it has its own challenges.
Tantalizers Plc and Private Placement. I don’t think we should go into the Private Placement issue anymore because we have gone past that. It is of no relevance anymore. The Placement was to get initial investors into the business before we took the decision to list. However, the placement was for a N1.00 share, but we sold at N5.00 per share. Today we are listing at N3.50 Kobo for 50 Kobo. Thus, for investors who participated in the Placement, there is already an appreciation of their investment.
Re-branding and expansion strategies. In terms of re-branding, and because we have been around for 11 years, we are taking a look at the total concept in terms of the outlet look, including our logo, layout. The colours may change a little. That is what we are putting together as re-branding.
Also in terms of our expansion plan, we said in our presentation that 10 more outlets would be opened this year in different parts of the country, which is what we are working hard to achieve. Tantalizers Plc has opened two outlets out of the proposed 12 outlets. One is located in Ikorodu in Lagos State and the other in Iwo Road area of Ibadan.
How do you hope to accomplish your world expansion programme, especially in Europe and the United States (US)? In terms of moving to Europe, more especially the United Kingdom, all we require is to familiarise ourselves with the investment climate there, which include the regulations, before we begin to take the steps.
We have registered the name Tantalizers in the UK for the past five years but we didn’t start the business. It is not new in our minds. It is something we have thought about for quite awhile and we have been studying it from a distance. Now we are looking at it closer, but haven’t set a date as to when we would eventually kick it off. It is something that we are looking up to.
How do you intend to handle your quality control vis-vis your expansion plans? As the company grew big, one thing that I can say from my experience is that as we began to expand, we saw the need to set up a quality control unit. Two major functions they perform, one is to look at those things that can be controlled centrally.
The other is to have a group of staff who would move from one outlet to the other and ensure that people are conforming to the set standards. When I am talking about standards, standards not only from the clean looks of the outlets, but also to the taste of the foods, to be sure that they actually conform to the set standards. That is how we have been able to hold on to the quality.
What would be your Unique Selling Point (USP) bearing in mind your proposed global expansion? One, if we are going to go out, we need to also look at the things that would sell in the environment that we are going into. For instance, you may find out that rice is the major food in that environment, but if you go to another place, it may not be the same thing.
In terms of product content, we are looking at that, hence we have to localise as per the area which we are going to. For the overall package or quality specifications, you would be guided by what operates in that environment.