The Success Story Of Nobis - Chuks Ekpunobi

Having worked for several years in the banking sector, Chuks Ekpunobi, decided it was time to fully go into something he has been nurturing since 2012.

He resigned last year to set up Nobis Events and Place. The Anambra born businessman speaks about Nobis as well as the business environment in the country.

What is the reason behind the creation of Nobis?
The reason behind the creation of Nobis was that prior to 2012, when you come to Ago, we have just few event centres but each one you go did not have structure as to where people stay and also as to how the firms are run. You have canopies and tables. We felt there is a need to breach the gap. The gap for the upper level and the middle level of the society that will come and not just wanting to sit behind or inside the rain and drink, so we decided to put up some structures to house them. That was a niche on its own because since then, we now find out that other event centres that are coming up are trying to model along that line. People saw the investments originally as a waste in terms of return on investment but over time, we have seen that there are alternative ways that you can put the structures. Who says that tomorrow in the event that something happens to even the bar, you have need for you to change the line of business where you are into another place. It creates an opportunity.
And that is what we have been doing since then. For now, we are trying to see how we can diversify by creating a one –stop- event centre where you can come. In the morning, starting from aerobics, then you gym. After that, you can have your hair cut. We intend to have an ultra modern barbing saloon and after that you can also do your massaging. Once you come in on a weekend as a man or woman, you ought to have a complete dose because after that it is also good to replenish in terms of taking the liquor. We also have food. 

What are the prospects?
In terms of the prospects, I will tell you that Nigeria is a consumption based economy and people will naturally consume. And consumption now is tilting towards retail. In terms of outlets, buying beer and the rest of them is good. Even though we have witnessed that the recession has a toll on its own because it is reducing the disposable income of individuals. Even though they say when you are sad, you drink, when you are happy, you drink but if you don’t have the money, there is no way you can fuel it. The threat is that recently they keep saying the Lagos state is banning live band. There is a lot of apprehension in the industry. What is going to happen? I think it is something they need to look at and bring some regulation. The reason is these; event centres provide employment outlets for a lot of hoodlums that would have been on the streets. Second, the people that went into music industry are people who are one way or the other looking for what to eat which if you don’t provide that, you are creating some social problem. I’m not saying, it shouldn’t be regulated but in terms of saying you are banning it completely, you may not be something that is productive.

Beyond that, I think every other thing is going on well. The neighbourhood of where these things are may not be very happy with you because a lot of them expect that you are making a lot of income. The only way you can make yourself felt is by involving yourself in CSR and try to see how you can aid them in developing one or two things which we are also doing.

What have you done in practical terms?
We have started with the road and you know what you can do to the road is limited because government will not allow you to embark on any reconstruction but the drainages which is what is causing the flooding of the road is where we have started.
We have taken one arm of the road when we do it to the end, we can take the other one. Once rain falls, we can move. With that you can empower even the community themselves to see how they can assist you to come up and help.

What are the challenges in this line of business?
The major challenge is power. I say major because the bedrock of failure for any SME is power. Today, our operating cost on monthly basis is much. Diesel consume about 60 per cent at the sum of N215,000 on weekly basis, it will translate to over N800, 000. Salary is just about N575, 000 and you are paying close to a million naira in addition to PHCN cost because they will always bring their bill.
Recently, PHCN is sayin all event centres must have transformer, now the transformer is not the problem but when they are installed, will there be light? If there is light then the cost you save on diesel for a month will almost install a transformer for you. If power issue can be dealt with, I will tell you that it will become more efficient and more profitable and then government will have more taxes to collect.

How is the business environment generally in Nigeria?
It depends. There are some businesses that are import dependent. There are some businesses that are locally formatted. For the ones that are import dependent, they have a lot of problems because when the import input are not there, then, you cannot move. And that input i is based on forex which drives input. Even though in the last one month, CBN has tried to make forex to be available but that is also dependent on you having the money to be able to fund the forex. It’s a lot of challenges for them. We are not import dependent. Our own is locally formatted because the breweries are here. They produce. You may also argue that some of the inputs maybe imported but I think that overtime, a lot of breweries have tried to source their raw materials from the inside. It is not really affecting the entertainment industry that much.

What is unique about Nobis?
If you go out there, you will find where we said, ‘Nobis is different from others.’ We are different from others not because we don’t serve the beer that other people serve or we don’t charge the price other people charge, but because we have a niche we have created on service delivery. We are a service industry just like the banks and therefore, we know that in due course, competition that is based on quality service delivery almost beats other pricing which are tangible. It is that intangible element of service that we try to bring to the market.
What we have done is where our competition would have taken 10 people to serve, we go for maybe 15. When the average turnaround time for the industry is two minutes, ours should be one minute. That as you are sitting down within a minute somebody should be able to take your orders and deliver.
Secondly we have invested in the cooling system because people like to drink cold beer because of the environment. From 6pm to 11 pm everyday, you have demand for cold drinks. At no point will you say you don’t have cold drinks to serve. By doing so, you are not providing an opportunity to try an alternative. If 10 people leave your organization, only about eight will come back. The other two will not come back again. In terms of diversification, let us also look at other service elements.

Tell us more about your other ventures?
Up until December 2016, I was with Heritage bank PLC. Before then, I had worked in several other banks including the defunct Spring Bank, Enterprise bank, fortune International bank, Metropolitan Merchant bank and the rest. I just felt by December 2016, I should actually retire into my own private business, so as an industrialist, I have to improve on something which I started little since 2012. Where you are is called NOBis Events and Place. It’s a creation of a company that is called Dogas Intro Serve Limited. It has about four companies. NOBIS is one, Philbert Consult Limited, CJC Communications Limited-all of them are in Bode Thomas while NOBIS is here in Ago, Okota.

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