Before now, Indians had a near monopoly of the market for shavers and blades in Nigeria, controlling over ninety per cent of the products, leaving a marginal five per cent of the market to others.
On how he was able to break into this new ground, Chief Divine Obiora Obiwulu, Chief Executive Officer, Vine Morris Group, told The Nation, it was by dint of hard work and perseverance.
Going down memory lane, he recalled that his company cultivated and nurtured for over 15 years, the Dorco brand of shaving stick, only to have the rugs pulled from under his feet by the owners when the hard work was done and the product has become a household name, not only in the vast Nigerian market but also across the West Africa region. “At the point of reaping the dividends, the foreigners who owned the products started frustrating us,” he recounted.
“The whites see Nigerians as slaves in business who they will use in developing their products in our markets; thereafter, they give them a Thank You handshake and hand the business over to their brothers,” said Obiwulu.
Taking his loss in good faith, he had resolutely gone ahead to establish an indigenous brand, Dino Shavers to fill the gap in the shaving industry.
Though the odds were daunting, Obiwulu’s passion and desire to make an impact in the shaving industry he had operated in for over 15 years, gave him the inner strength to forge ahead, coupled with his conviction that Nigerians are ready to welcome and support whatever they consider theirs.
On why it was difficult to see Nigerians in the shaving-and-blades business, he said it was ‘because they didn’t consider it a worthwhile business,’ thereby giving Indians the opportunity to dominate the segment.
“As it stands, Dino Shavers is the only indigenous company, others are foreign companies. It is purely a hundred per cent Sweden blade and shaves closely to give maximum satisfaction. It has a wide range of products, including twin shaving stick, double-edge blade, stick and cartridges and pillar pack.”
On how he is going to position the new product to make it a leader in the Nigerian market and beyond, Obiwulu pointed out that people have known Vine Morris to be a company that has integrity in terms of quality.
“People have known us for over 15 years, they know we perfected the brand called Dorco and we didn’t kill it,” he said.
He continued. “You know what happened in Nigeria as a businessman? If you are given a franchise, you will import five containers from the original owners and you will go to the backyard of China and import 20 containers and you use it to support the original; while you are making N10 here, you are also making N100 there. But we managed the Dorco brand for about 15 years and nothing like that came from us; instead, we put our lives on the line trying to fight those who were faking the products.” Vine Morris, he stressed, has goodwill, arising from its reputation for excellent customer relations.
“What a customer looks for in the market is a return on his investments at the end of the day,” he said.