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Why Julius Berger is not just about construction

Why Julius Berger is not just about construction

Daily Trust- November 1, 2015

According to figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2014, $63.39 million was expended in the importation of furniture to the country.

Between January and May 2015, furniture has drawn $20.39 million from the foreign reserve forcing the CBN to also include furniture on the list of commodities among the 40 items which were recently included on the list of items banned from accessing foreign exchange at the Nigerian Exchange Window by the CBN.

The CBN was quoted to have said the ban was partly because of the undue pressure exerted on the local currency as well as the economic implication of such imports on the local industries.

It is perhaps in recognition of the economic importance and potential of the furniture industry that Julius Berger dedicated a subsidiary of its company, AFP Furniture to the furniture sub sector.

Julius Berger Nigeria Plc (Julius Berger as known to many Nigerians) is a leading construction company offering integrated solutions and related services. The company is known to utilize state-of-the-art construction methods and technologies to ensure that quality and innovation are prioritized for the benefit of clients. Core competencies cover all project phases, including planning, design, engineering, construction, maintenance and operation for infrastructure, industry and building projects.

Mr. Uche Uzoewulu, Sales Manager with AFP Furniture told Daily Trust that Julius Berger is the company and within that company there are different departments. AFP is one of many and it is focused on making high quality furniture locally for the industry.

He said, “We believe that Nigerians are really drawn to quality, the same quality that you would expect from the construction department is what you would get with AFP. That is what has attracted Nigerians to our quality. We intend to maintain them and improve our designs.”

AFP has a broad list ranging from doors to wardrobe, office furniture, domestic furniture, window and decoration. Basically, AFP is said to handle everything that has to do with interior.

So it did not come to many as a surprise when AFP was award the best “Made in Nigeria Furniture” at the IDEA 2015: 4th Annual Interior Design Excellence Conference in Lagos over the weekend.

The award was the second in quick succession as barely one month ago, AFP won the 2015 Nigeria Customer Service Excellence award in woodwork.

The award in this category was driven by the need to celebrate the company’s facility, which is said to be guided by quality and innovation, reinforcing its ability to source quality materials and component supplies for the uncompromised delivery of excellence across all products and services.

Speaking on the IDEA award, Uche said, “This is definitely a recognition that we are honoured. We are producing furniture locally and our production is quite huge and our capacity is large. As a matter of fact, we have one of the largest factories in Africa.”

The AFP has a complete factory complex with showroom that covers a total area of 22,000 square meters situated in the Idu Industrial Estate and employs 480 local Nigerians.

Daily Trust also learnt that wood, which is a key component for any furniture production facility is sourced locally from Benin, Edo State.

According to Uche, “The entire drawings and design, the planning, production and installation are all done by Nigerians in our state-of-the-art facility in Abuja.”

The company which is already expanding and taking projects nationwide has also opened a state-of-the-art show room in Maitama, Abuja.

The Sales Manager hinted that AFP will continue to invest and expand to see how it can properly serve the furniture needs of Nigerians nationwide.

He said, “We’re really focusing more on local content, just to pass a message that furniture can be made in Nigeria. It could be made locally and it can surpass international standards. The challenge is creating enough awareness to focus on locally produced furniture.”

It could be recalled that the Federal Government recently lifted the embargo on the importation of furniture into the country. Speaking at the official launch of the implementation of Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Common External Tariff (CET), the former Controller General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko said the items were removed from the prohibition list in line with the laws guiding the CET regime.

However Uche emphasized the need for favourable government considerations saying, “What we need is for the Federal Government to support us as local producers.”


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