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Shoe manufacturers in Anambra State have identified low patronage and Nigerians’ preference for foreign goods as reasons locally made products bear foreign label.
Clement Emesim, Anambra chairman of shoemakers association, said Nigerians hardly appreciate “made in Nigeria goods” no matter the good quality.
The chairman made the observation at the association’s new location at Nkwelle-Ezunaka, near Onitsha at the weekend.
He said the only difference between foreign and locally made shoes was the finishing.
Emesim, who described the innovative business as lucrative, said the hub with many shops was producing about 20,000 shoes and sandals daily, “But due to government’s neglect and low patronage by Nigerians, we have not been able to grow beyond our capacity for years.
“We discovered that government does not recognise artisans, a sector that can reduce unemployment drastically in the country. The worst is that our people prefer foreign shoes to locally made substitutes.
“It was for this reason that our local manufacturers label their products as “made in China or France.”
According to Emesim, there are shoes imported from China called ‘rubber rubber,’ which are sold as cheap as N400 or N500, and inferior to what the members produce locally.
“These shoes are not better than the ones we produce here, but our people buy them because they are foreign. We produce quality shoes here, which are sold in big boutiques but they are labelled as “made in Italy or made in France,” he said.
He said the intention was to attract sales and higher profit, as “Some of these quality shoes are sold between N25,000 and N30,000 because of the perception that they are produced abroad.”
He said some of the materials used for production’s were imported and locally sourced.
The chairman said available information showed that footwears were produced with great ease abroad because of facilities and government’s support.
“Government needs to focus attention on artisans by designing programmes that will favour them. We may not be graduates but with government’s support in the areas of loan and machinery, we will produce much better quality and well-finished shoes.
“Government also needs to do more in the area of export,” Emesim said, adding that their customers from Lagos and Kano did not meet their target market.
The businessman also expressed worry over the bottlenecks involved in securing loans from banks, even when they applied as cooperatives.
He said: “At a point, we were told to produce our Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) certificate.
“Nothing stops us from obtaining SON certificates, but as businessmen, we believe that certain things are needed to be in place before certificates, which is why we need government’s support.”
He pledged the readiness of the association to partner government and its agencies to create the originality and quality that locally made foot wears deserved.
He expressed the hope for growth and expansion in the shoemaking sector in Nigeria but urged government to strictly enforce its ban on the importation of foot wears.
He said the measure would encourage local production and global competition in the sector.