By Merit Ibe and Chukwuma Umeorah

Nigerian Breweries (NB), has promised that it would revive operation of its manufacturing plants in Imo and Kaduna states, reassuring stakeholders and the public of its commitment to operational sustainability.

The company’s Managing Director, Hans Essaadi, gave this assurance on Wednesday while speaking at the company’s pre AGM media briefing in Lagos. This affirmation comes in the wake of recent announcements regarding the temporary closure of the two facilities where the leading beer maker cited operational concerns including a record foreign exchange loss of N153 billion in 2023 fiscal year due to the devaluation of the Naira.

The net loss of N106.3 billion posted in 2023 was due   to “a combination of challenging economic factors ranging from heightened operational costs, continued pressure on consumer disposable income, escalating inflation rates, FX volatility, amongst others,” Essaadi said.

He noted that the closure was only temporary and emphasised the company’s determination to address underlying factors and restore the plants to full capacity in the near future.

The company’s secretary, Uaboi Agbebaku, while discussing the company’s business recovery plan for 2024, indicated measures for a company-wide reorganisation aimed at securing a resilient and sustainable future for its stakeholders including raising N600 billion via rights issue to offset the company’s huge debt burden, both foreign and local which continues to have negative impact on its profitability.

He said, “The additional capital raised via Rights Issue will be used for payments of all overdue FX debts and payables, eliminate FX exposure and strengthen the company’s balance sheet and liquidity position, returning it to the path of net profitability as soon as possible.”

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He noted that the company’s majority shareholder, Heineken Plc had committed to raising over 50 per cent of the N600 billion target.

The company also added that its acquisition of Distell Wines and Spirit would further cement its presence in the market by offering exciting new portfolios to delight is consumers. This is in addition to effort aimed at maximising production and distribution of its products nationwide through establishing more depot at strategic locations in the country.

He reiterated the company’s commitment to serving the Nigerian market through “Continued strong cost management and further optimization of operational footprints, prioritizing its employees, communities and stakeholders.

“This is a company that is here forever. Even if others are leaving, we promise to stay, inject more money into this business that would continue to serve and deliver value to Nigerians.”

On her part, the Director, Corporate Affairs, NB, Sade Morgan highlighted the company’s contribution to sustainability for long term growth in three key areas; Environmental, Social and Responsible initiatives.

According to her, “Over N3. 6 billion have been invested in decarbonization, over 237,289 trees planted in Olokomeji Forest reserve, over N100 million invested to empower 1000 youths and women in 2023”, among others.