On Sunday, March 20, 2016, Lanre Bashiru Tanimowo, popularly known as Labash rolled out the drums in a grand opening of an elite outlet on Andrew Street, Lagos .
ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with him about this giant stride and more…
What informed the opening of your second outlet on the Island?
We believe Lagos Island is stepping up. They want some unique and distinct things . They want to have something within their domain. Due to this spirit in them, we decided to start opening branches.
What are the services you will render in your new outlet?
What we are known for, which is cocktail, in collaboration with finger food, shawarma, pizza, ice cream, popcorn, Chinese noodles and the rest.
Do you render all these services as well at your head office?
Yes, we do. The first floor is our corporate office while the ground floor is the eatery.
Why the choice of Lagos Island again? Fans on the Mainland were thinking you were bringing Labash to them?
There is no big deal in going to the Mainland. It is just that going to the Mainland is more capital intensive. It is also more of competition. The office and shop rent on the Mainland are on the high side. If you have not perfected your business, you might end up working for the landlord. That is the major issue giving me concern. But, sooner or later, we will be there. There is no two way to it. We just have to be there.
How much have you invested so far on the outlet?
I don’t quantify my investments. I quantify my returns. If you look at what you have put into it and you don’t get it back, you will be worried. If I put N1 and the return is N10, you will have cause to smile.
That is the kind of person I am. It is not about how much the input is, but the acceptability of the product, how it is embraced. Then, we can think of profit. But, I must say it is capital intensive.
Will you say there is an expansion in your target audience that warranted the opening of this place, despite the economic situation of the country?
In all lines of business, there is need for diversification. I pioneered cocktail in Nigeria over 20 years ago, but we have a perfect market now which has become a challenge. Before, I monopolized the market. We are still in the business, but we need to make more profit.
How have you been able to keep ahead of competition?
I am able to keep up because of the secret behind my product. A Coca-Cola will remain Coca-Cola. Labash’s product will ever remain Labash. No other product can be like it. It is a secret
In business, you have to challenge yourself. If the economy does not challenge you, you have to challenge yourself. If you don’t, you will not be creative. These are things that have kept the business. You just have to be dynamic, your business must not be static. That is the secret of moving forward.
What has been your staying power over the years?
It is simple. My revenue is equal to my expenses. My overheard is equal to my income. Considering the economic situation, business is more of overhead than it should be. Both the manufacturers and entrepreneurs in Nigeria know they are facing a lot of challenges when you talk of overhead.
For instance, we have been using generator 24/7. It is really crazy. Bad road is another challenge. State of health of the business owner is also there. There are so many factors that can hinder the smooth operation of a business.
Do you have decisions that you took business wise or in life when you were 50 that has materialized?
Of course! It is one of the reasons you strategize. You plan ahead. You need to plan to guide yourself and your business. You need to be focused. At 50,you are no longer a kid. The strength you had 10 years ago might not be there again. It is high time you hit the nail on the head. You have to spread your tentacles, put all hands on deck. Maximize your profit. Train more people and have confidence in more of your employees. Once you clock 50, you should leave certain percentage of your business to be managed by people so that you’d have long life.
There is this fear most business owners have, after training people, they will quit and establish their own. What is your take on that?
That is where we find ourselves. There are no guidelines, no policies set by the government to help entrepreneurs forstall all these. I don’t train people but they acquire the skills while they are doing the job and they get paid. People who come to me to work, acquire two things at a time. They don’t pay for training, they acquired it and they are paid at the end of the month too. Some will leave before you blink your eyes. You wouldn’t say you will not train people because of that. You just have to keep training people.
Whoever will stay will stay. The bottom line is 85 percent will go. That is why we can’t have longevity in Nigerian businesses. Abroad, you will still see businesses of 1870, because they have structures and policies on ground. You cannot just walk up to any company and tell them you want to work without signing an agreement of maybe staying for 10 years. That is a policy that will help such a company. But it is a big challenge in Nigeria. If Nigeria is to move forward, we need to set such policies now. We are saying that we should diversify to agriculture, people going into it should acquire adequate skills. Some will go to reputable firms for skills but they will not wait to develop that place. Instead, they will leave to setup their own firms. If everybody wants to be employers of labour, who will then be the worker. There should be a policy on ground, really.
How do you feel when a trusted staffer leaves?
I don’t give a damn again. I believe one needs to read to manage his business. Before going onto business, you should question yourself, are you ripe to go into business? Are you passionate about it or better still, are you interested in it? Will you be passionate about it when you start nurturing your business?
When you start business, you don’t mix your pleasure, business and ego together. In Nigeria, that is a problem. If I stand before my staff and send them away, the business would continue, I would do the little I can to absorb the number of customers we can take.
Business owners should serve as role models. Don’t put ego and personality into what you are doing. Nurture your business and be part of it. I have seen hundred of them leaving but the business is still alive. If I wasn’t futuristic, I wouldn’t be here today.
Now, you are settling up an elitist outlet, how affordable will it be for others?
Yes, it is more of an elite place. The fact that the people want to elevate their ways of doing things. Some people leave the Island to Ikoyi and Victoria Island to have fun and relax. We don’t want them to go far. They can still derive that enjoyment within their domain. It will reduce their cost and stress by coming here. We are here for as many that can afford us.
Will you say the skyrocketing exchange rate is affecting your business?
That has a tremendous negative impact on our business. There is a machine I need to buy but I couldn’t buy it, for a year now. I can only purchase it outside the country. They didn’t increase the price of the machine but if I have to buy it, I must spend twice that amount. It is really a big challenge. I hope we get it right because it is affecting business owners.
What do you think can do done about it?
The President is working vigorously to ensure the stability of the country. I believe we must have something we export to other countries and get paid in naira for it. If such is done, I believe that will be a way out. Before you can encourage investors, a lot of things must be on ground. Social infrastructure must be put in place. A lot of businesses have collapsed because of this.
The challenge we have in the oil sector is a global one. There is nothing Nigeria can do about it.
- SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN