Managing Director of leading player in the nation’s maritime industry, Sifax Group, Mr. John Jenkins has revealed that whereas his group is a global company with business interests and operations in several countries around the world; Nigeria remains the biggest market of its services.
However, he regretted the current foreign exchange scarcity facing major businesses, saying the drop in oil prices remains the key factor frustrating the national economy and private businesses.
He said “The inability of the government to generate the required foreign exchange to oil the wheel of the economy posed a great challenge but was hopeful over some measures put up by the government to address the challenge.
Commenting on the performance of Sifax Group, Jenkins said “Port & Cargo Handling Services Limited is the flagship subsidiary in our group due to its strategic importance in terms of its size and business volumes”.
“All the measuring indices for the company in the first half of the year recorded a negative return when benchmarked against the same period in 2015, which in itself didn’t return any encouraging statistics.
He said from vessel operations, throughput figures to gate activities, all recorded a sharp decline in volumes and activities. While the percentage of volume decline varies from one measuring indices to another, but on the average, Ports & Cargo recorded approximately a 10% drop in container business operations.
He noted that being a multi-purpose terminal, Ports & Cargo Handling Services limited, aside containers operations, also handles general/project cargoes, which ended up the most badly-affected arm of the business during the period under review.
While revealing that there was approximately a 50% drop in volumes for general cargo goods between January and June, 2016 when compared with the first half of 2015, Sifax boss, he noted that Sifax Offdock, an inland container depot subsidiary group recorded an improved business performance for the period under review as shown in the mid-year statistics. The throughput volume for January to June, 2016, compared with that of 201S shows approximately a 54.11% increase for the containers received into the facilities whilst deliveries improved also by 50.23%.
He added further that though the business performance in this subsidiary has been encouraging, its overall impact in the Group has been minimal due to its small size and limited financial contributions to the whole Group. The improvement recorded here has been largely due to the deployment of technology, efficient systems and a motivated workforce.
Jenkins revealed that his group registered over 50 trucks under SifaxHaulage & Logistics Limited to become one of the best in the secto.
He said Sifax recorded approximately a 20% decline in volume between January and June 2016 when compared to 2015 mid-year performance, despite signing new business deals with some new clients like Fatoum Logistics, Lilypond Containers and APMT, Kano.
He made it clear that there are some daunting challenges being faced in the cause of doing business. Some of them include the challenge of sourcing foreign exchange, which has greatly affected our customers, importers; power is also a big challenge.
He said “We solely rely on diesel to power all our heavy equipment and generators for our 24 hours operations. This has greatly increased the cost of doing business and drastically reduced our profit margin. The access roads to the ports are in a deplorable condition and this has created a source of worry to the stakeholders in the industry.
He expressed hope that with the recently introduced monetary and economic policies by the Federal Government, especially the relaxed forex regime, “it is our expectations that the business environment of the second half of the year will be friendlier and more conducive compared with the first half. The signs are already showing”.
Going forward, Sifax boss stressed that if the recent monetary and economic policies by the Federal Government become successful at the short and long run, “Sifax Group intends to increase its market share with an aggressive marketing strategy, which will ultimately culminate in new clients. We expect to see a recovery from the sharp decline in our business volume”.
“The first half of the year has been a very challenging one for us as a company as our business figures have shown. However, the resilience of the management and the dedication of a supporting workforce have been the driving force for the marginal success we have recorded.
“SifaxGroup will continue to explore available and emerging opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the economy of Nigeria. We have a leader in Dr. TaiwoAfolabi, whose vision and determination continue to inspire us to forge ahead in the midst of a challenging business environment,” Jenkins, Sifax managing director said.