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Fatgbems Group Restates Commitment to the Nigerian Economy

Ayodele Odulaja, Chief Operating Officer, FATGBEMS Group

By Martin Ogumah

A lot of indigenous-owned businesses in Nigeria hardly survive a life-cycle of ten (10) years. There are so many factors responsible for this phenomenon including but not limited to government economic policy somersault, lack of infrastructural facilities, and uncomplimentary tax regimes.

The needed enabling environment for businesses to thrive is far from what is expected or seen in some emerging markets like Nigeria. It takes a lot of courage and sacrifices on the part of Nigerian citizens who run businesses to keep afloat. The hostile business environment does not give room for fair competition.

The poor state of infrastructure is among such challenges working against business concerns to the point that, many just packed up along the way. There is also the case of lack of  data and market information that are not readily available; and when available cannot totally be relied upon? The high cost of business financing doesn’t even allow those with big dreams to venture. 

Despite these challenges, Fatgbems Group, an indigenous conglomerate is not resting on her oars for growth and expansion. This can be attributed to right leadership and experience on the part of the founder. The conglomerate was founded by Alhaji Abdulfatai Gbemisola in 1986 with interest in automobile tyre trade and marketing. The business interest saw a thriving partnership with Michelin and Dunlop.

With commitment, perseverance, dedication and hard work it grew to be a leading brand in Nigeria’s automotive service sector with a range of products that cater for Passenger Cars, Light Trucks and 4WD, Trailer and All-Purpose, Agricultural/Industrial, including Earth-moving and off the Road, as well as Special Purpose.

As at 2009 the brand became a top distributor of Michelin tyres in Nigeria, which was while it was honoured at the UBA annual general meeting of 2009 as one of its most valued customer. Having being a major player in this industry for over three decades, the brand initiated a partnership with a U.K brand (Tradesetters) in launching a premium class product “Torque Tyres” into the Nigerian market. Interestingly, some of the partnerships still exit till date even though Michelin and Dunlop are currently not producing in Nigeria. 

During a media parley recently held at the company’s corporate headquarters in Lagos, Ayodele Odulaja, Chief Operating Officer, who joined Fatgbems Group in March, 2023 briefed the media about the history of the conglomerate. He said in 1994 the brand diversified into the downstream oil and gas sector of Nigeria’s petroleum industry by incorporating Fatgbems Petroleum Company Limited. As at 2006, her first retail fuel service station started in Ejigbo, Lagos State. Since then, it has expanded into a reliable petroleum marketing company driven by value in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s petroleum industry.

It has a tank farm of thirty (30) million capacity depot built in Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos, as well as truck holding bay that can warehouse up to 100 trucks and 35 ton capacity automated gas plant providing over 20,000kg of bulk sale per transaction to retail vendors. The service stations spread from Lagos to most South-Western States of Nigeria. Fatgbems Petroleum Company Limited has invested to increase her current number of retail service stations from thirty (30) in Lagos and South-West Nigeria to open fifty (50) in the next three to four years which will spread to Abuja, Kano, Enugu, Port Harcourt, and other eastern states in Nigeria. In his appreciation of the enduring partnership over the years with the media, the Chief Operating Officer used the opportunity to further brief the media on other areas of divestment and the on-going investments that the conglomerate is carrying out to further drive Nigeria’s economic growth for prosperity.

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L-R: Ayodele Odulaja, Chief Operating Officer, Thelma Ogun, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Adebayo Gbemisola, Executive Director, Retail Business at the Fatgbems Group Media Parley in Lagos

According to Ayodele Odulaja, “we have re-structured the company and we will be more involved in agro-allied business.” He said the former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria and the current President of Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Adesina mentioned sometime ago that Africa’s agro business will be about $1trillion by 2030. “We are asking ourselves, what will be our share of the $1Trillion of Africa’s agro-allied business by that 2030. We are going to process agricultural products for export to guaranty foreign exchange into Nigeria’s economy as a nation builder by reducing pressure on the naira.”

He said the company has acquired about 250 hectares of arable land for backward integration to create jobs. “We are very mindful of our business model so that we don’t export jobs out of Nigeria.” The company is starting with cashew processing. The backward integration programme is committed to job creations in Nigeria, development of agricultural space and improves foreign exchange earnings as a company and a nation. 

In line with the agro-allied project the group is involved with industry engagement as part of the African Cashew Alliance. According to him, the alliance is what is guiding Fatgbems operations in the area by providing professional advice. The company has taken a tour of some of the projects that have been executed across the West African Coast – Republic of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire in Ivory Coast and Senegal. The arrangement is to plug into the existing industrial parks that are coming up in Cote d’ Ivoire and Ogun State by working with those behind it to make sure Fatgbems is part of it. The Chief Operating Officer said, “The arrangement would have provided most of the machinery, but of course, we have our own equity contribution into it either straight from our pocket or a mixture of both debt financing and equity contribution.” The cashew that is going to be provided by the facilitators is of high quality hybrid.

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L-R: Shamsudeen Gbemisola, Executive Director, Operations & Technology, Nurudeen Akinyemi, Head, Internal Audit, Ayodele Odulaja, Chief Operating Officer, Thelma Ogun, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Adebayo Gbemisola, Executive Director, Retail Business at the Fatgbems Group Media Parley in Lagos

In the real estate sector, Fatgbems brand is poise to spread across major industries and in Nigeria with growing need for affordable homes and large industrial layout. Fatgbems properties has launched into the real estate sector and will continue to stimulate value-chain driven activities that will benefit Nigeria with the application of one of  the most modern technology that will close the huge gap between technology and the property industry in Nigeria, especially with the abundance of some natural resources. The Chief Operating Officer said, “We are set to be part of the people that will make Nigeria great again. In months to come the Nigerian audience will see Fatgbems brand moving in multiple rates.”

According to him, Fatgbems Nigeria Limited will continue to remain the flagship company that trades in tyres. “Part of that business is also our CarPro, an acronym for car professionals. We service vehicles at our various service stations and we will continue to operate along that line of business.”

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L-R: Nurudeen Akinyemi, Head, Internal Audit, Azeez Adeosun, Senior Manager, Brand & Customer Services, Ayodele Odulaja, Chief Operating Officer, Thelma Ogun, General Manager, Sales & Marketing at the Fatgbems Group Media Parley in Lagos

Fatgbems Transport has trucks in her fleet that distribute refined petroleum products like PMS, AGO, DPK and other products from Fatgbems Depot and other depots from Lagos, the coastal area to various parts of Nigeria. “We are also building more capacity in the transport business.”

The conglomerate’s turnover, as at today, is above N50 Billion. It is expected that the diversification efforts that’s on-going will push it to about N100 Billion in 2024.

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