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How I Plan To Turn Around MOUKA Foam – New MD, FEMI FAPOHUNDA

Femi Fapohunda has just taken over the leadership of Mouka Foam, a giant company in the bedding industry. The Company had been previously run by Ray Murphy who had been at the helms of affairs of the company since 2015.

Last week, Brands Editor, DAMILARE SALAMI 08155134152 had an interview with the new MD who opened up on what he has done and still doing to keep Mouka Foam at the top of the sector. Below are excerpts from the interview.


Congratulations on your appointment as the new MD of Mouka Foam, how do you feel about bearing this great responsibility?

Thank you very much Damilare, I feel honoured. It’s a great honour to carry on the legacy of my predecessor, Mr Ray Murphy. Being the first indigenous MD of Mouka is a great challenge but I think I am equal to the task. I am not new to the Mouka family or the Mouka brand, I have worked very closely with the outgone MD and management team and I equally have a very strong team to work with. There’s no doubt that there will be a few challenges here and there but I can assure you that we are ready for the task ahead.

Mouka Foam has announced new ownership in the international market. Is there any possibility of seeing the brand name being changed from Mouka to Dolidol International any time soon?

Well, I think anyone that has bought into Mouka has bought a heritage and part of what they buy into is the name because the Mouka name has gone far. As it stands today, a change of name is not what is in consideration. The name remains because it is a brand that has survived the test of time. What you can be seeing is a gradual integration of the name ‘Mouka, a member of ‘Dolidol international’; however, Mouka remains for life.

How has Mouka Foam been able to sustain the bottom line and market leadership despite the downward curve of the economy especially in the FX particularly now that production cost has leapt from 33 to 100 per cent?

We are in Nigeria and we are operating in Nigeria so there is no way we can remove the FX factor from our business because we have some of our materials being imported. However, because we have over the years brought in a lot of things into our supply chains, we do a bit of backward integrations in some areas. Yes, we are being affected by this crisis but I can assure you that we are better off than any of our competitors in terms of the impacts. As much as possible, some of the materials can be sourced locally or converted to a local source, which we have easily done. I am sure you know that we are now producing our pillows in fibre. Rather than using polyurethane because we have to import the raw materials, 99 per cent of our pillows are now being made from recycled pet bottles which means that we don’t have to pay in forex to get that. As much as possible, we are also looking in the direction of the materials that we can convert into locals; we are looking at a lot of things that keep us ahead of the competition and those are some of the reasons we’ve been able to maintain the bottom line. We have been growing in double digits despite all the unfavourable indices that you noted in the industry.

There’s a challenge between many distribution lines and manufacturers in terms of logistics majorly because of the high cost of diesel. How is Mouka dealing with that challenge because the brand spreads across Nigeria?

Thank you for this question, the current energy crisis has been unprecedented so far. I am sure everybody knows that the cost of diesel about three months ago has tripled from about from N250 per litre to about N800-N900 per litre. It is challenging but luckily as I said before, Mouka has been building into the future long before now. Before now, we have worked seriously on our regional presence by having our depots around the country; this means that our logistics don’t have to pick mattresses in twos or fives, they carry a whole lot like a cluster at any point in time, so that we can manage the cost of logistics. That’s one, another thing we have also looked at is in some of our areas where possible, we’ve started converting into solar energy. Most of our security lights and the lights in our head office have been converted into solar power utility energy not just because of energy usage, we also considered our emission. So we have tried as much as possible to reduce the consumption of diesel, it is one of those things we measure on daily basis. Most of our air conditioners use inverters so they consume less energy. Aside from all these, part of what we have been able to do is to restructure our production efficiency such that we only make use of the more giant generators at a particular time of the day. It is challenging for the whole country but we are still managing and we have been able to sustain the bottom line.

Still, on logistics sir, how are you going to be dealing with the security challenges particularly in the North because there is a need to move your products to that part of the country?

There’s nobody in this country that is not being affected by the security challenges of the country. In our eastern business, we now only operate for just three days a week. On Mondays and Tuesdays, some groups of people say that you cannot work and of course, we need to secure the lives and properties of our staff and in the northern part of the country, we are struggling as well. We know the government is doing their bit but as a group, we also encourage our people to stay safe. We prioritize that in everything we do and we will continue to do that as much as possible we will also continue to pray that things get better.

You are in a competitive market and you need to up your game from time to time to keep ahead of your competitors. As the new MD, what strategies do you have in place to enable you sustain the business?

I particularly like this question… well, talking about the sustainability of the business, we have put everything in place to be ahead and we are not resting on our oasis yet. Luckily, I asked that this particular machine you are seeing be displayed. Let me categorically say that in the bedding industry in Africa, it is only Mouka that has this equipment and I will tell you what it does. One of the things that we will focus on is having a niche in the quality of our product and how we address our consumer needs. We actually acquired and installed this Gester tester machine about a month ago, it was fully commissioned at our Ilupeju office. This is the only type that is available anywhere in Africa. Even our Moroccan business, the Ivory Coast and South African Businesses as well do not have it. What does this machine do? People have been talking about the life span of a mattress, as a matter of fact; they have prescribed sleeping styles that elongate the lifespan of a mattress. Some will say that you have to use the mattress for about 10 years before you can know whether will be deformed but with this machine, it only takes about 2 hours or less to know how long it will take the mattress to depreciate; you also know how effective the machine can be. The machine can predict what will happen to the mattress in the next 10 years within 2 hours. The machine lies down and moves about on the mattress and tells you all you need to know. So, one of the areas that we will continue to distinguish ourselves is in the quality of the products that we churn out.

The other area we are hoping to do better is how we listen to our consumers. We have designed a programme where we listen to all our partners and get feedback from them. Because we are now an international business, we are also going to be taking lessons from the best practices in the world. We are going to be a world-class business; there are a lot of investments also coming into the business. These are some of the ways we intend to sustain the growth of the business.


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