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Industry powerhouse: Nigeria’s top manufacturing leaders

Nigeria’s Manufacturing companies contributed approximately N32 trillion to the economy over a five-year period between 2018 and 2022 according to Nairametrics reporting citing NBS data.

Despite Nigeria’s challenging economic landscape, the manufacturing sector remains a significant force, bringing joy and providing goods for use by many households, from Cement, through Food and beverages, to Textiles, Apparel and Footwear, to Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals and many others, they have continued to sustain the needs and wants of Nigerians.

The leaders of these companies have adeptly navigated Nigeria’s economic turbulence, considering the country’s heavy reliance on imports. In Q4 2022, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reported N559.25 billion in raw material imports, according to its Foreign Trade in Goods 2022 data.

The sector’s contribution to real GDP in Q2 2023 stood at 8.62%, marking a slight decline from 8.65% when compared to Q2 2022 and a more significant decrease from 10.13% in Q1 2023. Increasing energy costs, exchange rate fluctuations, elevated financing costs, rising inflation and rising costs of raw material imports have contributed to hindered production and eroded profit margins, as previously reported by Nairametrics.

Nevertheless, these manufacturing powerhouses persist, driving job creation and contributing to product diversity.

They are more than just business leaders; they are household brands deeply entrenched in Nigeria’s economy, influencing various industries ranging from food, beverages, oil, construction, and pharmaceuticals.

In this feature, Nairametrics profiles these top manufacturing industry powerhouses, highlighting their pivotal role in shaping consumer demand and maintaining economic stability.

Our list also includes leaders of foreign-owned companies who are in charge of the local manufacturing process in Nigeria. 

  • Aliko Dangote – Dangote Group

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest individual, founded the Dangote Group in 1981. The conglomerate spans cement, food, and oil and gas industries, making it West Africa’s largest company. With over 30,000 employees and N3.3 trillion($ 4.3 billion) in revenue, Dangote’s empire began as a trading enterprise before venturing into manufacturing.

  • Abdulsamad Rabiu – BUA Group

Abdulsamad Rabiu

Abdulsamad Rabiu established BUA Group, a conglomerate involved in cement production, sugar refining, and real estate.

In 2020, Rabiu merged Obu Cement with Cement Co. of Northern Nigeria, creating BUA Cement Plc. BUA cement has a market capitalization of N3.2 trillion on NGX. Abdul Samad Rabiu studied Economics at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, USA and he holds the Nigerian National Honour of ‘Commander of the Federal Republic’ (CFR).

  • Tim Kleinebenne – Unilever Nigeria Plc.

Tim Kleinebenne

Tim Kleinebenne holds the position of Managing Director at Unilever Nigeria, a company established by William Hesketh Lever back in 1923. At the end of the 2022 financial year, Unilever Nigeria generated N88.6 billion, Net operating profit of N4.47 billion and had 786 employees.

Unilever Nigeria is a member of the Unilever Group, with a global presence in 190 countries, and a global of 148,000 employees.

  • Wassim Elhusseini-Nestle Nigeria

Wassim Elhusseini

Wassim Elhusseini is the MD of Nestle Nigeria Plc., a food and beverage speciality company with ties to Tolaram Group. Nestle Nigeria was founded in 1961 and by the end of the 2022 financial year, Nestle Nigeria generated a revenue of N446.8 billion, net operating profit of N86.9 billion and had 2,320 employees.

Together with the company’s 275,000 associates in 188 countries, Wassim strives to enhance the quality of life through the power of food with Nestlé’s 2,000+ brands.

  • Oyeyimika Adeboye-Cadbury Nigeria

Oyeyimika Adeboye

Oyeyimika Adeboye, the CEO of Cadbury Nigeria, assumed her role in 2019. Under her leadership, the company, founded in 1965, has seen substantial growth. Cadbury Nigeria Plc currently employs about 781 people who have chosen to build their careers with the Company.

A chartered accountant, in November 2008, Oyeyimika was headhunted to join the board of Cadbury West Africa as Finance and Strategy Director, West Africa; and a director on the board of Cadbury Ghana Ltd.

  • Bernard Cheruiyot Langat-Friesland Wamco

Bernard Cheruiyot

Bernard Cheruiyot Langat is the Managing Director of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, known for milk brands like Peak and Three Crowns.

The company started production in 1975 and at the end of the 2022 financial generated revenues of N324.72 billion, a net operating profit of N13.46 billion and had 764 employees.

  • Mathieu Seguin-Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company

Mathieu Seguin

Mathieu Seguin serves as the CEO of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Nigeria. With Nigeria as one of its markets, it provides exclusive services for the bottling and selling the Coca Cola brands such as Coca-Cola, Fanta, and Sprite. The Nigerian Bottling Company has been in operation in Nigeria since 1953.

Adhi Narto

Adhi Narto leads Dufil Prima Foods. The company started operations as De United Food Industries Limited in 1996. They are the manufacturers of brands such as Indomie Noodles, Power Oil etc.

Narto joined the company in 2001 as a project manager and climbed through the ladders-his experience spans over 20 years in supply chain management.

  • Faysal El-Khalil-Seven Up Bottling Company

Feysal El Khalil

Feysal El-Khalil chairs the Seven-Up Bottling Company, renowned for producing and marketing globally recognized beverages such as Pepsi, 7Up, and Mountain Dew. Founded by Feysal’s father, Mohammed El-Khalil, originally as El-Khalil Transport in 1926, it later evolved into the largest transport company in West Africa.

The company transitioned into the beverage industry on October 1, 1960, producing the inaugural bottle of 7Up at its Ijora factory. As of 2017, Feysal held a majority share valued at N63 billion in the company.

  • Omoboyede Olusanya-Flourmills Nigeria

Omoboyede Olusanya

Omoboyede Olusanya, the Group Managing Director and CEO of Flour Mills Nigeria, established in 1960, oversees significant investments in the agro-allied sector. At the end of the 2023 financial year in March 2023, FMN generated revenues of N1.54 trillion, a net operating profit of N42.75 billion and had 5,919 employees.

With over 20 years of executive experience, Olusanya currently, serves on the boards of Axxela, Starsight, and OVH Energy.

Bruno Gruwez

Bruno Gruwez leads Promasidor Nigeria Ltd, the company behind Cowbell Milk, a staple in Nigerian households since 1993. In 2016, during the share purchase agreement between Ajinomoto and Promasidor, the group’s valuation stood at approximately N1.15 trillion (adjusted for inflation).

Gruwez joined Promasidor Nigeria, having spent over fourteen years at PepsiCo South Africa as the Senior Director for Food Categories in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Omobola Johnson/John Musunga-Guiness Nigeria

Dr. Omobola Johnson John Musunga

Dr. Omobola Johnson chairs Guinness Nigeria Plc, a subsidiary of Diageo Plc, founded in 1962. She’s a seasoned professional with 30 years of experience in both the private and public sectors.

John Musunga is the Managing Director and CEO of the foreign extra stout brewer recorded revenues of N229.44 billion, net operating profits of N23.38 billion and had 791 employees in the year ended June 30, 2023.

  • Hans Essaadi-Nigerian Breweries

Hans Essaadi

Hans Essaadi, is a Dutch business leader, who serves as the CEO Director, and MD at Nigerian Breweries Plc, as well as the Managing Director at Heineken Egypt. He is also a Member of the Governing Council at the Confederation of Malaysian Brewers Bhd.

Mr. Essaadi has held various significant roles throughout his career, including General Manager at Sirocco GmbH, General Manager of Brau Union International GmbH, and others.

At the end of its 2022 financial year. NB Plc., generated revenues of N550.58 billion, net operating profits of N52.56 billion and had 2,685 employees

  • Arun Bhintade-Cway Foods and Beverages

Arun Bhintade

Arun Bhintade serves as the Managing Director of Cway Foods and Beverages, known for producing a range of products including Nutri-Yo Yoghurt, Nutri-Milk Fruit Milk, Nutri Milk Superkids Fruit Milk, Nutri-Soya Soymilk, Peach Fruit Drink, Nutri-Choco Chocolate Drink, and Maca Plus Energy Drink. The company, founded in 1999 by Mr. Onest Che, has made significant strides in the industry.

  • Sulaiman Adebola Adegunwa

Sulaiman Adebola Adegunwa

Sulaiman Adebola Adegunwa is a Nigerian businessman and founder of Essay Holdings Limited, the parent company of Rite Foods Limited, makers of Bigi drinks. Rite Foods began its journey in 2008. He also served as the Chairman of Sterling Bank Plc.

  • Souhail Joseph Nassar-Sunal Foods

Souhail Joseph Nassar founded Sunal Foods in 1989 alongside Nouhad Joseph Nassar, under the name Vital Foods Limited producing toffees, lollipops and other products.

The company has since grown and is renowned for the production of biscuits, chewing gum, and toffees, with products like Digestive and Malted Milk.

  • Daniel Agbor-UAC Group Plc

Daniel Agbor

Daniel Agbor chairs UAC Group Plc, a conglomerate founded in 1879. The group spans various sectors, offering brands like Gala, Mr Bigg’s, and Dulux. The company reported revenue of N109. 27 billion for 2022.

  • Jan Jenisch- Lafarge Nigeria

Jan Jenisch

Jan Jenisch leads Holcim Group, owners of Lafarge Nigeria. Lafarge began operations in 1961 and is committed to innovative and sustainable building solutions. Lafarge Africa Plc is a member of the Holcim Group – it became a publicly quoted company on the Nigerian Exchange on February 17, 1979. At the end of the 2022 financial year, Lafarge generated revenues of N373.34 billion, net operating profits of N69,74 billion and had 1,343 employees

  • Oba Otudeko- Honeywell Group

Oba Otudeko

Oba Otudeko is the founder and chairman of the Honeywell Group, a conglomerate spanning oil and gas, flour milling, real estate, and marine transportation. His most successful enterprise in the Honey Well Flour mills. Otudeko also owns Radisson Blu through Leisure.

Honeywell Flour Mills recorded a revenue of N67. 909 billion in H1 2022.

  • Taiwo Ayodele Adeniyi-Vitafoam

Taiwo Ayodele Adeniyi

Taiwo Ayodele Adeniyi is the Group Managing Director/CEO of Vitafoam, a manufacturing powerhouse established in 1962, specializing in polyether foam products.

Adeniyi became part of the Vitafoam Group in 2007 and earned his board position in July 2012. Before taking the helm as Group Managing Director/CEO, he held the role of Group Technical and development Director and served as the Supervising Director for Vitapur Nigeria Ltd, a subsidiary of Vitafoam Nigeria Plc.

  • Raymond Murphy-Mouka Foam

Raymond Murphy

Raymond Murphy is the Managing Director and CEO of Mouka Foam, a Nigerian mattress manufacturer founded in 1959. Raymond Murphy has led the company since 2015.

Under his leadership, Mouka achieved recognition in the London Stock Exchange Group’s Companies to Inspire Africa reports for 2017 and 2019, highlighting its remarkable growth and contributions to African development.

  • Fidelis Ayebae-Fidson Healthcare Plc

Fidelis Ayebae

Fidelis Ayebae founded Fidson Healthcare Plc, where he remains the Managing Director (MD). Fidson is a pharmaceutical company listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In 2018, the company declared N3.61 billion as its revenue for the first quarter, a 26% increase from the N3.42 billion recorded in the comparable period in 2017.

With an employee strength of over 1200, Fidson is the largest employer of pharmacists in Nigeria. Prior to founding the Healthcare company, Ayebae was a Managing Director at Ayebe Investment Limited and an Assistant Director at Citibank.

  • Stella Chinyelu Okoli-Emzor Pharmaceuticals

Stella Chinyelu Okoli

Stella Chinyelu Okoli, CEO of Emzor Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company since 1977, is a prominent player in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector. In 2021, Emzor listed its N13.7 billion 5-Year Series 1 Bond on NGX.

She also founded the Chike Okoli Foundation in 2006, which operates a Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, impacting over 1,500,000 Nigerians.

  • Ademola Odunaiya-Wemy Industries

Ademola Odunaiya

Ademola Odunaiya is the Managing Director of Wemy Industries Limited, founded in 1978. The company is a pioneer manufacturer of baby diapers and other personal hygiene products in Nigeria such as Dr Brown.

The daily operations of the company is run by his sons, Paul and Obatunde Odunaiya.

  • Senator Daisy Ehanire Danjuma- May & Baker

Senator Daisy Ehanire Danjuma

Senator Daisy Ehanire Danjuma chairs May and Baker, a pharmaceutical company dating back to 1962, known for its vaccines, antibiotics, and sera. Senator Danjuma, a prominent figure in Nigerian politics, served from 2003 to 2007.

Beyond her political career, Senator Danjuma chaired South Atlantic Petroleum Limited from 1999 to 2003. Furthermore, she plays the Trustee of the H I D Awolowo Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership, and Executive Vice Chairman of South Atlantic Petroleum Limited.

  • Ahmed Kazalma Mantey- Leventis Group

Ahmed Kazalma Mantey

Ahmed Kazalma Mantey chairs AG Leventis Group, with interests spanning power and gas products, consumer foods, real estate, and more.

The conglomerate’s legacy dates back to 1936. Prior to becoming chairperson, Mantey boasts an extensive career within AG Leventis Group of Companies, serving in diverse roles, from Divisional/Special Assistant to the Chief Executive to Executive Director.

He holds positions on the boards of Nigerian Bottling Company Limited and Leventis Foundation GTE.

  • Viju Wang Nianyong- Viju Industries

Viju Wang Nianyong founded Viju Industries (Nigeria) Limited in 2004, offering products like Apple fruit milk drink. He shifted from commodities trading to revolutionize the Nigerian market.

Today, Viju is one of the country’s most iconic brands with more than 5 flavours in the beverage market.

  • Razak Murphy Okoya- Eleganza Group

Razak Okoya

Razak Okoya, a billionaire industrialist founded the Eleganza Group. This conglomerate, with six factories in strategic locations across Western Africa, manufactures a diverse range of household goods and utensils, including cutlery, collieries, food warmers, ice chests, electric fans, cosmetics, and ballpoint pens.

Employing over 5000 individuals, the Eleganza Group has achieved household recognition in Nigeria and neighbouring African markets, becoming a symbol of local industry success and innovation.

  • Peder Tuborgh- Arla Foods

Peder Tuborgh

Peder Tuborgh is the Group CEO of Arla Foods, the makers of Dano milk a global dairy cooperative with 10,300 farmer owners in Northern Europe. He joined Arla in 1987, rising through various roles worldwide.

Arla, a Danish-Swedish multinational and the largest Scandinavian dairy producer established a dairy farm in Kaduna, Nigeria. Governor Nasir El-Rufai attended its May 25, 2023 inauguration.

The farm aims to produce 1.6 million kg of milk in 2024, with a target of 4 million kg annually.

  • Obi Ezeude- Beloxxi Biscuits

Obi Ezeude

Obi Ezeude, the founder behind Beloxxi Biscuits, a producer of cream crackers incorporated in 1994, has become a household brand in Nigeria. Initially funded by a $2.2 million US Exim loan, the company later divested minority shares to KFW-DEG, a German investment bank, and 8Miles of London, a private equity firm, raising approximately $85 million. These funds facilitated significant expansion, including nine production lines and an allied packaging factory in Oregun.

Pierre Vandebeeck

Pierre Vandebeeck, an Agronomist, founded SIAT, the owner of Presco. In 1974, he led Socfin Consultant Services for the World Bank’s Nigerian oil palm plantation project, overseeing the successful development of the Adapalm estate. In 1983, he became SOCFINCO’s Country Director for Nigeria, achieving similar results at Okomu Oil Palm Company.

He later established Siat Group, overseeing 48,000 hectares of oil palm estates in Edo, Delta, and Rivers States, and Presco’s growth into a market leader in Nigeria’s vegetable oils and fats industry, employing over 10,000 Nigerians.

Hubert Fabri

Hubert Fabri and Vincent Bollore co-founded SOCFIN, an agro-industrial group specializing in oil palm and rubber cultivation and the largest shareholder in Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC.

Initially established by the Nigerian Federal Government in 1976 in Edo State, Okomu Oil Palm became a PLC in 1990. Under their guidance, SOCFIN has expanded its plantations across Africa and Asia, with control over 400,000 hectares of land. Okomu oil’s current market capitalization stands at N250.8 billion on NGX.

George Onafowokan

George Onafowokan is the Managing Director and CEO of Coleman Wires.

Established in 1975 by Asiwaju S.K. Onafowokan, Coleman Wires has grown to become West Africa’s largest cable manufacturer.

George’s journey in the industry includes serving as the immediate past chairman of the Electrical and Electronic Sector of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN). Furthermore, he currently holds a position on the executive committee of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). Under George’s leadership, the company’s assets surged from N50 million in 2002 to N15 billion by the end of 2014.

Hussein Safa serves as the CEO of Sara Foam, a prominent foam and foam-related product manufacturer with a workforce exceeding 500. Founded in 1992, Sara Foam has expanded its product range over the years to include brands like Sara Elegance, Sara Omega, Sara Luxury, Sara Trendy, Sara Flex, Sara Macho, and Sara Ultima-Plus, among others.

Note: All individuals featured on the list were carefully compiled by a panel of editors, experts, and analysts at Nairametrics.

It is important to note that none of the individuals listed actively sought inclusion; rather, they were selected based on their significant contributions to the manufacturing sector in Nigeria.

While we aimed for comprehensiveness, it is essential to recognize that this list is not exhaustive, as many other contributors have played vital roles in advancing the sector.

This compilation is exclusive to Nairametrics and may be updated periodically to reflect changes and advancements in the sector.

Feedback will be appreciated.

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