Fabric business

Despite the recession, the textile business continues to thrive

If you pass ten shops in the market, it is possible that at least two or three sell fabric. Selling fabrics is one of the busiest and most profitable services rendered in any mainstream market. Daily Trust Saturday interacted with a few fabric dealers to understand the business of the company.

Depending on how you intend to start, selling fabrics is one of the most profitable businesses you can invest in. It is interesting to know that it is a company that is constantly moving because the fabric is considered a necessity by many.

This is because items such as personal clothing, uniforms (school, staff, security), sheets, duvets, tablecloths, etc. are always in constant demand, hence the increase in demand for fabric.

One of the cloth merchants, Mr. Solomon Chinonso, who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday said he served his master for 8 years at Wuse market before starting his own business.

“In this business, the profit comes quickly and you are advantaged when you have been trained by someone. It’s important that you at least work with someone who’s been in the business for a while,” he said.

Mr. Chinonso has been selling fabric for 10 years. It deals with materials like khaki, cashmere, suits, senators, turks, etc.

“Most of the time, business does not move the same way. Some days are slow while others are relatively good. On a bad day, the least we have is around 10 customers. On a good day, we can have up to 30-50 clients.

“The prices of materials vary according to the quality. Some sell for N2000 or N3000 per meter. We have those that are 6 meters for 10,000 N. Regardless of the material, on a slow selling day we might sell 200 meters of clothing and on a good day we might sell 500 to 700 meters,” he said. added.

However, Mr. Chinonso noted that due to special reasons, it is really difficult for business owners to enjoy the profits of the business. One of the issues that poses a great threat to his business is the current rise in foreign currencies.

“The textile business is a seasonless business, so sales and profits tend to be consistent. However, with the high exchange rate, sometimes we cannot sell certain materials at the price we want because we don’t want to lose our customers.

“If we have to consider the cost price, shipping rates, customs duties and logistics rates before adding the profit, when we finally add it, customers will complain that it is too high. . There are so many instances where we can’t really win enough like we’re supposed to and so we end up running at a loss,” he said.

Other reasons he gave why some dealerships do not take advantage of their profits are the high cost of rent and the poor quality of electricity.

“The rent for my store is 3 million naira which is really high for a market and the light situation here is very bad. Because I need my store to be conducive enough for my customers, I do run my generator all day and it costs me nothing less than 6,000 naira a day,” he added.

Another cloth merchant, Shafiyu Abubakar, said he and his father had been selling cloth for eight years. In their shop, they sell a variety of Ankara and lace fabrics ranging from N2000 per meter depending on the material. There are some that go for N20,000, N60,000 and even up to N320,000 for six meters.

According to Shafiyu, their number of customers is around 20 to 40 people per day, and the total sales in one day are in the hundreds of thousands.

Unlike Solomon who raised the currency issue as a challenge, Shafiyu mentioned that although the exchange rate fluctuates, their business is not badly affected as they buy directly from the source, so it’s quite cheap.

“If the material is expensive, the price will definitely be high. But we try not to add too much gain because we deal directly with the manufacturers and therefore buy the materials at a fair price,” he said.

However, Shafiyu’s father said he would like his son to take over his business. “Whatever profession he decides to choose is up to him, but it’s the company that supported the family, so taking him on won’t be a bad idea.”

Another cloth merchant, Mr. Fabian Uchenna, tells a different story of Chinonso and Shafiyu as he started his business on his own after raising enough capital. Starting the business was capital intensive because at the time funds were not really a luxury for him.

“Starting this business is not cheap, especially if you want to start here in the market. The starting price to rent here is at least 1.5 million naira. We haven’t even talked about money to buy the materials and then have them shipped to your location.When I started, I used almost a total sum of 500,000 naira.

Unlike Mr. Chinonso who mainly focuses on men’s fabrics, Fabian deals with all kinds of materials, including chiffon, crepe, cotton, silk, khaki, and more.

According to him, he chose to sell in the Wuse market because of its central location and the caliber of customers he could attract. He also believes that being in the market is the best place for a business like his.

“Before the recession, you would have customers coming in and buying fabrics worth millions in a day. Sometimes it can even be a single customer buying fabrics that will total a million naira or more.

“However, things are no longer the same. Now we are dealing with at least 30-50 clients a day,” he added.

“Often customers complain that they are being cheated when prices go up, but the reality is that as a big importer there is so much duty to pay and if you don’t add all of that to your selling price , it would be difficult to make a reasonable profit.

“Imagine buying goods worth a million naira or more, the customs tax can be up to N500,000, you still have to ship it from Lagos to Abuja, which can cost you another N100,000 to N150,000 and when it arrives you have to hire a vehicle to take it to the warehouse which can cost between N15,000 and 20,000, notice I haven’t even added international shipping.”

“If you don’t find a way to take all of these expenses into account when setting a selling price, your business and personal finances will suffer a huge loss.”

In Kano, the sale of fabrics proved profitable for those who ventured into the trade.

Abdulhadi Ahmed, who has been selling fabric for about 28 years in Kano, said prices are adjusted according to market prices from distributors.

Abdulhadi, who currently sells mainly men’s fabrics, first started with the popular women’s fabric known as ‘Atampa’ and then moved on to selling veils and laces.

“I started at the Hajj camp market with women’s cloth before deciding to focus on men’s cloth. About five years ago, I was able to open another shop in Kwari market, which is the largest textile market in West Africa.

Starting his business 28 years ago was not difficult as the naira was more valuable then, he said. “I started with N25,000 before expanding and deciding to focus on men’s fabrics only. Now I mostly do wholesale business. There are days when I only supply to customers and some days i take care of family and friends who may like a fabric i post on my whatsapp status.

“I sell over 200 yards of different varieties of men’s fabrics and the cheapest is N1,500 per yard wholesale while retail the starting price is N2,500 per yard,” he said. added.

Most of its fabrics are sourced from Dubai and China, with the majority of fabric production work done in India and Bangladesh.

However, importing the fabrics often proves to be a challenge as the constant rise in foreign currencies is a problem affecting his business.

For a country with a huge demand for fabric, Abdulhadi noted that Nigeria does not produce fabric due to lack of proper infrastructure. “The main reason why textile production won’t work here is the lack of stable electricity, proper management and maintenance. No more textile companies produce in Kano. If textile production is to be revived, we must solve our electricity problem,” he added.

Hauwa Shehu Ashaka is another fabric merchant who has been selling fabric for over 12 years in Kano. She started her business from home before opening a boutique in 2017.

With 100,000 naira, Hauwa was able to start selling fabric. She sells exclusive super wax, brocade, getzners, Dutch wax, etc. and her prices range from N8,500 to N95,000.

According to Hauwa, before the dollar crisis at the end of 2017/2018, it sourced fabric from the UK. However, when the exchange rate became very high, she had to source her supplies from other countries such as India, China and Cotonou.

“In this business, there’s nothing like a low season because there’s always a demand for fabric. For women’s fabrics, it’s an all-season affair and because of the ceremonies, I can sell up to 30 pieces a day.

With online shopping becoming increasingly popular, it is also easy to source from fabric stockists on different social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Bilkisu Mahmoud is an online seller who has been selling fabrics for four years. She draws her material from Kano, Lagos and sometimes Cotonou.

“I think I started with less than 60,000 Naira in 2019. Then I would advertise the goods on my WhatsApp or Twitter status and when I get an order I will use the money to get the items from my supplier, then I will be paid after the delivery of the articles.

At first it was really difficult and risky because sometimes people changed their minds after receiving the fabrics, but I made some changes later,” Bilkisu said.

“I have clients who like ready-to-wear. This set of people can buy up to 20 pieces of material or more. Just recently I sent 17 and 22 pieces of hardware to two different clients in Abuja. But if it’s personal purchases, it’s mostly between one and three items,” she added.