The economy situation under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is forcing more Nigerians into the unemployment market after several workers at Nigerian hair production company, X-Pression, were sacked as the local hair manufacturer can no longer maintain its present workforce due to the harsh economic situation and its battle against fake X-Pression products produced by Chinese nationals.
The employees of X-Pression, a subsidiary of Solpia Nigeria Limited, were informed of the downsizing through a memo seen by Nairametrics. The company said it was cutting down the size of its workers, and the affected employees were workers recruited by outsourcing company, Amalya Consults Limited.
X-Pression has been operating since 1997, manufacturing hair products like weave-on, braid, and hairpieces. Popular X-Pression brands include Yaki Flip, Daniela, Lagos Braid, Funky, Active and Diva.
Amalya Consults has been a recruiting agency for X-Pression but according to the circular released by the latter, Solpia Nigeria no longer wants to extend its partnership with the recruitment firm. Amalya Consults’ contract was terminated and the workers the company recruited for X-Pression were disengaged.
Solpia Nigeria stated in the letter that the termination of its contract with Amalya Consults and the workers would be effective by October 31, 2019. X-Pression urged the sacked workers to take the termination in good fate as security personnel of the company had been directed not to allow any staff recruited by Amalya Consults to gain entrance into X-Pression from November 1, 2019.
Number of affected workers
Nairametrics learnt that Amalya Consults had reportedly employed 1126 workers for Solpia Nigeria since the recruitment partnership began. However, almost a thousand workers recruited by Amalya Consults would be affected and unemployed by October 31, 2019. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s unemployment figure stood at 9.7 million as at Q3 of 2018.
While the company didn’t confirm the exact number, Nairametrics was told some would be retained at the end of this month.
The many problems facing X-Pression
The sack of the workers by X-Pression is a response to the current economic woes in Nigeria. According to the company, the harsh economic realities in Nigeria prompted the decision to terminate the contract as it can no longer afford the workforce it has.
When Nairametrics contacted X-Pression regarding the downsizing, the company confirmed the content of the memo and disclosed that it had been battling fake X-Pression products manufactured by Chinese nationals in collaboration with some Nigerians. The company said that apart from the current economic issue in Nigeria, fake products and port congestion had resulted in financial loss.
“Due to the activities of unscrupulous people faking and passing off our hair attachment products especially Ultra and Rich Braid, coupled with low sales and the present economic situation in the country, we deemed it absolutely imperative to downsize our workforce in order to remain in business. The said products have suffered monumental faking and passing off by Nigerians and Chinese Nationals despite our fight against their unholy activities,” X-Pression disclosed.
The port congestion has also affected production level which in turn affected X-Pression’s ability to meet demand. This has compelled its foreign trading partners to stop placing orders.
“Our export business has also drastically plunged due to ports congestion. Raw materials are stuck in the Ports, this hampers optimum production and our foreign trading partners were losing customers due to the delays in meeting up with their demands.
“They stopped placing Orders for our products. We held a press conference on the 20th day of September 2019 to alert the Government and the whole world on the monumental faking and passing off of our products and its attendant consequences on our continued corporate existence and financial losses,” X-Pression added.
The battle for survival
The company’s short-term solution to its financial problem is the downsizing of the workforce. X-Pression says this is a measure needed to stay in business to avoid shutting down.
“Consequent upon all these factors, we have to take necessary measures to remain in business rather than close down. It is really unfortunate that we have to embark on this measure of downsizing.”
More job loss ahead
X-Pression said it was planning on further downsizing of its workforce. “We value our esteemed workers. We terminated the contract of the Outsourcing Company primarily due to the fact that we could not continue to retain their services. We are also planning to downsize our entire workforce both in the production floor and offices.”
During an interaction with some X-Pression workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, some were aware of the sack while others were unsure of the number and location of the sack. Another worker said the staff members were not sacked, that the company only advised that workers were free to resign.
One of the workers told Nairametrics that the disengagement she knew about took place at Linda Nigeria Limited, a joint owner of X-Pression brand. She added that while some of the staff were brought to Solpia Nigeria, the casual workers were sacked. However, according to a report, the sacking at Linda Nigeria occurred two months ago.
However, the recent communique states that the services of the workers recruited by Amalya Consults would no longer be needed from November 1, 2019.
Will border closure solve its problem?
The Nigerian government has totally shut down the Nigerian land border, stopping export and importation of goods. This decision seems to have come at the right time for X-Pression which accused Chinese nationals of importing fake X-Pression products into Nigeria.
The company said it didn’t want to shut down but Nigerians and the government will be the ones to determine its fate.
“We call on you to assist us to expose the fakers who include Chinese Nationals who import fake X-pression products especially our vintage products, the Ultra and Rich Braids into Nigeria unhindered. This Industry employs many Nigerians and losing their jobs will be catastrophic.
“We are appealing to the government and its relevant Agencies to also assist us in this war and avert a complete shutting down of the Company.”
But while the border closure might play in favour of X-Pression. There are other companies that depend on raw materials from neighbouring countries. This shutdown has started affecting other businesses financially.
Ripple effect of X-Pression’s job cut
The termination of contract also affected Amalya Consult as the recruitment agency also shut-down its operation. While the sacked X-Pression staff have until October ending, Amalya Consults’ workers were disengaged in September. During a visit to the company at Fagba bus-stop, Ifako-Ijaye, Lagos, Nairametrics was informed by sellers around the company that business will not commence until next year.
In an interview with Ekohotblog, one of the former staff of Amalya Consults, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the situation at X-Pression also forced their boss to sack them,.
“My company recruits workers for X-Pression and we have been doing that for a long time. However, around early September, they told us to stop recruitment that they are finding it difficult to cope because of the economic situation in the country.
“Since there was no more job for our company, my boss sacked us too. I have been home since September, trying to find another job. Sophia could have informed those workers at the same time they informed us,” the source said.