Diana Chan is the Chairman of Choice International Group (CIG) Motors, sole dealers of GAC Motors in Nigeria. In this interview with Daily Trust, she speaks about the automobile industry in Nigeria.
What informed your decision to do business in Nigeria?
We came to Nigeria in 2014 and introduced GAC Motors automobiles from China. Our presence in the last five years has brought tremendous progress to the Nigerians in the automobile industry. We are rich in high brand awareness in this country, and our aim is for GAC Motors to be a leading automobile in the country.
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In 2016, we introduced another brand to the company; Gree Air Conditioner.
How successful have been your operations in Nigeria?
We believe in quality; it is the first priority for the brand to build. When we brought the brand to Nigeria, we didn’t just do it as a business; we also took it as a social responsibility to make it benefit Nigerians. It took a lot of patience to continue to work hard to overcome all the challenges in this country.
Does CIG operate in other parts of Africa?
GAC Motors is only one of the investments of the company. CIG is a worldwide international company that operates in many parts of the world, including the Middle East and Africa.
Aside GAC Motors, what other products does your company produce?
Apart from automobiles and air conditioning, we also have the Lontor rechargeable. Lontor is a product that is widely accepted. I believe that in every Nigerian family, at least, you can find a Lontor product there.
There are fake Lontor products and consumers can hardly distinguish between the fake and the original. Is there anything your company is doing to curb piracy of your products?
To curb this, we have provided a Small Medium Enterprise (SME) solution platform for the end user on our Lontor pay platform. Through this, our customers are able to have access to the original brand products and brand owners online or at any Lontor shop.
What are the special features of GAC Motors that can attract customers?
CIG Motors is a company, while GAC Motors is a brand, and we are running it in a brand concept. We drive our sales from brand marketing, building into development, sales marketing and after-sales. The sales of spare parts into all areas where our consumers are. We specialise in the sales of spare parts and ensure our consumers not only benefit in the purchase of our products, but also in the after-sales services. It is not just buying and selling, but a whole range of business and services we provide.
How many branches do you have in Nigeria?
Aside our Lagos office, we are developing in Port Harcourt and Abuja. Our Abuja office has been in existence for over two years. In Lagos, we have two outlets.
What is your relationship with Del York Creative Academy?
We sponsor the academy because we discovered that the creative industry has a great potential. We can see that Nigeria is full of creative young people with plenty of talents and they need development so that they can add value to themselves and society.
Regarding the business side, in the last four years, as a brand to enter here, we continue to sponsor different events. Example, we are the sponsors of Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award (AMVCA), Watch Nigeria, Miss Nigeria and so on. We also saw the need to support an international academy to train young people with the right skills to develop in the industry; that is our idea. We believe that the creative industry can help change the youths’ mindset and help them undertake their jobs in future.
In 2017, you unveiled some brands of salon cars, SUVs, how are these brands doing in the market?
They are doing quite good. Our cars are running all over the country and the drivers are enjoying an awesome driving experience.
Tell us about your assembling plant at Ojota in Lagos?
That is part of the investment on the Semi Knocked-Down (SKD) factory because we need to comply with government policies. I think, in the future, the company will develop better and better with a much bigger market share. The launch of the SKD project marks the first time Chinese vehicles have had parts assembled in Nigeria; promoting China-Africa industrial cooperation. It sets a precedent for Chinese vehicles in the Nigerian market. The SKD factory was built in Nigeria for the optimisation of the supply chain, shortening production time and reducing cost.
You operate in a country where many patronise used cars, how is this affecting your business?
On the issue of fairly used cars, it is a national policy that I believe the Federal Government (FG) should review. Government needs to do its best to curtail the importation of used cars so that the new vehicle industries can develop, otherwise, there is no enough market share to support the automobile industry. It will kill all these investments.
How much has CIG Motors invested in Nigeria?
Investment is continuous; depending on how good the market can grow and how serious the government can support the investor and how good the consumers support and patronise us.
Would you advise others to invest in Nigeria?
At this moment, let Nigeria enjoy the good name and good brands of this company first.
We learnt you love golf, why the interest in golf, and have you joined any golf club in Nigeria?
I love golf so much. I was a beautiful golf player in China, but since I came to Nigeria, I have not had time to play it, but I still have plan to join a club because golf is one of the strongest sports for people who want to develop both in mind and physically. I love golf because I love nature; and you play the sport in a natural setting.
Can you tell us the positive aspects of doing business in Nigeria?
I can see that young Nigerians are after the good of the country; these young Nigerians I believe will become the owners of this country, they need better life. So, Nigeria should give more chances to the young generation.
There are differences in mindset, education, understanding and culture, but despite the differences, Nigerians are peace-loving.