Looking good is good business, but comes with an expensive price tag. Nigerians generally love to look their best, either when going for official functions or social gatherings; they know how to show off their well tailored attires. HAPPENINGS MAGAZINE correspondents Kikelomo Onigbanjo and Odunayo Adeneye in an exclusive interview with the General Manager of Pierre Cardin Nigeria Limited, Mr. Godwin, explore the fashion business.
My name is Godwin Ezuwani; I am the General Manager of Pierre Cardin Nigeria Limited.
I am well educated. I had my secondary education in the east, after which I went to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), where I studied Business Administration/Accounting. I graduated in 1979.
WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY ALL ABOUT?
Our business name is Pierre Cardin Nigeria Limited; it is a Luxury Fashion business, which is why we are located in a high brow area of Lagos state. We are located on Awolowo Road in Ikoyi and our branch is at Ikeja City Mall, Lagos.
CAN WE CONCLUDE THAT YOU ARE THE SOLE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PIERRE-CARDIN FRANCHISE IN NIGERIA?
Yes we are, and that is why we are using the brand name. We are the only company that has been licensed to sell the brand to the Nigerian market and even in West Africa at large, and we represent the company.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE CONCEPT TO START THIS BUSINESS?
You see, most times in life, your passion may lead you to your vision. If you passionate about something, you might find yourself voluntarily or involuntarily doing it, and later expanding on it. Our Chairman unfortunately is now late, we lost him in July 2016, he would have been in a better position to answer this question, but all I can tell you is that he was really passionate about fashion and that was why he ventured into the fashion business. He was a really fashionable man.
WHAT ARE THE SKILLS REQUIRED TO RUN A TOP NOTCH LUXURY FASHION BUSINESS SUCH AS THIS?
Like I said earlier on, passion is a very key element, afterwards experience comes in handy. We have been in this business for almost 17 years now, we started out as a corporate entity in 2001, and then we used to be on Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island. Market research is another very important skill needed because the fashion business is very dynamic in nature, it is not static. It is a trendy business, what is in vogue today might be obsolete tomorrow, so we just have to keep up with the times.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THE DYNAMIC NATURE OF FASHION IN YOUR BUSINESS?
We do that simply by keeping abreast of time; we do a whole lot of study and research by reading fashion magazines, watching different fashion shows to monitor the trends, not just locally but globally in the fashion world.
WHAT IS YOUR STAFF RECRUITMENT PROCESS LIKE?
We do a whole lot of screening when it comes to our staff. We employ those who are capable and understand the fashion business and are in tune with the corporate objectives of the business. They must be people who are willing to grow alongside the business.
HOW AFFORDABLE ARE YOUR FASHION ITEMS?
I would be very factual here, our business is not for the low class; it is for the middle and upper class. Our cheapest item here goes for N2000 which is a pair of socks. We have belts that cost about N20, 000, shirts that go for about N15, 000, so you can see our target audience is not the low class; our suits are sold for N100,000 and upwards.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ANYONE WHO WANTS TO VENTURE INTO THE FASHION BUSINESS?
The luxury fashion business is a very challenging one, especially in this economic situation. People are thinking of what to eat, where to sleep first, before thinking of looking fashionable, so there is really nothing much there for now.
HOW HAS THE RISE IN THE PRICE OF THE DOLLAR AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?
It has affected our business so badly; the rate at which it has skyrocketed between the last regime and this current administration is beyond human imagination. We can’t even build-in the cost into our retail price, because it would simply become unaffordable to even the upper class, so we try to mitigate the cost and bear some of it, so as to remain in business.
HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I don’t really think I have the time for that, except maybe after church service on Sundays. I come here from morning till night every Monday to Saturday; weekends and public holidays are when we get more clients because that is the period the corporate elites are chanced to come for their shopping.
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE WORK AND FAMILY?
Well, I have been able to strike a balance and they understand a great deal. They are very supportive.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME
You are welcome.