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33-years after, Mr. Bigg’s is not so big anymore

From the late 1970s to early 2000s, @mrbiggsng was the most sought-after fast food restaurant, but 33 years later, the company is gradually winding up, becoming a fading memory in an era of competition; the fall of this giant will, however, cost Nigerians a lot.

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Mr. Biggs restuarants in Nigeria, Mr. Biggs resturant address in Nigeria, Mr. Biggs office, Quick Service Restuarants in Nigeria

Mr Bigg’s, one-time most sought-after fast food restaurant, is struggling to deliver on its slogan and compete in a Quick Service Restaurant market that’s in a shake-out phase. 

From the late 1970s to early 2000s, Mr. Bigg’s was the prominent fast-food chain for every Nigerian, with outlets situated in almost all communities, especially in the South-West. Just like MTN Nigeria, Mr. Bigg’s was “everywhere you go.” 

It was a home away from home for most Nigerians, regardless of their social classes, as it offered delicacies that left customers with a delicious experience, but 46 years later, the company is gradually winding up, losing the market it once dominated to the likes of Tasty Fried Chicken, The Place, KFC and some other Nigerian-owned fast food restaurants.

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Nigerians are walking away from Mr. Bigg’s?

The one-time household name is now a fading memory among Nigerians and it’s telling on the company’s outlets. Within the past few years, Mr. Biggs has been cutting back on its locations, shutting down outlets in areas like Ojota, Ogudu, Sobo in Akowanjo-Egbeda road, while operational outlets are being deserted by Nigerians.

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[READ ALSO: O’Concept, the QSR reengineering snack-on-the-go to flip the market]

How Mr. Bigg’s problems started 

Self-inflicted harm: Mr. Bigg’s adopted a business strategy that allowed it to operate by proxy. The company subscribed to franchising and monetising its brand for QSR entrepreneurs interested in using its name to capture market share. This system helped the company to break new grounds faster, and meet growing demand in its early years. 

Other start-ups went in quest for survival, as competing against the UAC-owned fast-food chain was considered a suicide mission. But while the franchise move aided the popularity and expansion of Mr. Bigg’s, the franchise outlets couldn’t maintain the quality assurance that it was known for. It was no longer serving delicious experience, so customers went in search of it elsewhere. 

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Rising competition: Unlike three decades ago, when Mr. Biggs reigned supreme as the only option, the QSR market has become saturated and Nigerians are now spoilt for choice. Over the years, the likes of KFC, TFC, The Place and many other local fast-food restaurants have sprung up to meet the change in customers taste preferences, thereby, replacing Mr. Biggs. 

The growth rate of the aforementioned companies shows that Nigerians were longing for something different but Mr. Biggs failed to meet their expectations.

 

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The Place is now one of the most popular restaurant owned by a Nigerian

As expected, when customers’ taste preference favours a fast food brand, its demand increases while demand for the outlet whose service goes against the preference declines. The latter is the story of Mr. Bigg’s. 

Mr. Bigg’s in declining stage: Aside rice and chicken, Mr. Bigg’s is known for its meat pie one of the most sought-after snacks in the country way back. However, both have come under criticism. The rice was said to be tasteless, while the meatpie has been dubbed ‘Air pie’ in some quarters. Some customers joked about buying beans to make up for the lack of expected filling in the pies served in some Mr. Bigg’s outlets.

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[READ ALSO: Superstores in Nigeria: Can SPAR and Shoprite’s business models keep them afloat?]

The business lifespan of the QSR known for having Nigeria’s first drive-through restaurant seems to be exiting the maturity stage and entering that of decline, as it seems the company has nothing new to offer Nigerians. 

What Nigerians are saying

While speaking to a media practitioner, Ukhueleigbe Zaccheaus, Nairametrics was told, “Come to Akowonjo, beside D-Demz (Sobo street) Mr. Bigg’s is small and dead.” 

Tola Oyeyemi, a businesswoman, said, “The last time I ate at Mr. Bigg’s was two months ago and the food was not good. It can’t be compared to how it was before, so I prefer going to Just Food over Mr. Bigg’s.” 

For Gabriel Alabi, another media practitioner, the last time he ate at Mr. Bigg’s was during his teenage years.

“I can’t really recall the specific date I stopped eating at Mr. Bigg’s, but I know it was when it used to be like an amusement park to us. I don’t go there because I’m not a fan. Then, it was just because of the buzz about Mr. Bigg’s.” 

While around Osogbo, an undergraduate, Adejoke, said, “They have shutdown. Not that they have really shutdown oo! Like they (customers) are not rushing it like before. Sometimes they (Mr. Bigg’s) microwave their turkey.”

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See other reactions below.

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https://twitter.com/cloverdaddy/status/1147855587235028992

Impact of the company’s fall: Mr. Bigg’s’ struggle across Nigeria has a negative impact on the country’s employment numbers, as it’s the largest fast food chain in Nigeria. It is one of the companies that middle and lower-class individuals depend on for job opportunities. 

Donned in the company’s famous red and yellow uniform, undergraduates and secondary school leavers make up the workforce of Mr. Bigg’s. They depend on the company to earn in order to improve their standards of living.

[READ ALSO: How Cable TV could die in Nigeria]

The struggle being experienced by the company threatens retrenchment and disengagement of staff, increasing the number of individuals in the labour market in a country already bogged down by slow growth, and high unemployment level.

Is this downward trend the end of Mr. Bigg’s? that depends on the management’s willingness to innovate and adapt to the changing preference of customers. And considering the years of experience the company has in the restaurant business, it’s capable of transforming into a old wine in a new bottle.

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Foluso

    July 18, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    What an utterly stupid, lazy and useless write-up!!! “It is, however, too late to stop Mr. Biggs downward spiral……” Really!!!! This appears to be a hatchet job with no attempt whatsoever to bring balance to the story. Historically, other establishments that have experienced worse performances have been able to restructure, rebrand and reinvent themselves. There are quite a few strengths that Mr Biggs still enjoys eg; brand recognition, outlet spread, UACs distribution advantage, etc that can be leveraged on. This is what I expected this write-up to have focused on and ended with rather than just the gloom and gloat narrative. What can other entrepreneurs learn from this and what can they do if they find themselves in a similar situation? Give me a balanced article not a cut and paste from twitter lazy journalism of how they arrived at this point. Nairametrics, you are bigger than this.

  2. Ayo

    July 21, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    This must be a sponsored article, I guess or maybe not.
    This is not objective, and what do readers stand to gain. Have you visited Mr Biggs outlet on the island or Lekki axis recently?
    You don’t run down businesses, rather you should proffer solutions to problems and suggests way forward, if you have any.

  3. Nwaoha

    December 10, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    These comments though, you want a journalist to sugarcoat an article?! He wrote facts and it was a pretty enjoyable read.

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Business

Nigeria among countries to be worst hit by food crisis globally

Nigeria, others were listed as countries with the worst deteriorations in acute hunger in recent months.

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7 million Nigerians to experience food shortage

Nigeria has emerged as one of the countries to be most hit by food crisis across the globe in the face of the coronavirus pandemic which had worsened the already bad situation.

This disclosure is contained in a report by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The report from the FAO also shows that the Democratic Republic of Congo is emerging as the country with the world’s largest food crisis in terms of absolute numbers, with Burkina Faso listed as the country with the worst deteriorations in acute hunger in recent months.

The food crisis is made worse in Nigeria by the longstanding religious and ethnic conflicts and even organized crimes by some bandits, which has greatly affected farmers working on their farmlands.

In addition to these, the farmers were already contending with the issue of flooding or drought, which has negatively been impacting on the agricultural sector in a period the country is desperate and very desirous of economic diversification. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a surge in food prices as can be seen in the reports released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a country that imports over 10% of its food supply.

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With a population of over 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, which is regarded as the world’s most food-insecure continent. This is made worse as importers of food items struggle to gain access to dollars for their imports due to scarcity of foreign exchange which is triggered by the crash of oil prices and low foreign inflow.

This is expected to be exacerbated by the recent order by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank of Nigeria, to stop the allocation of foreign exchange to importers of food items.

The Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, warned in April, “We are heading toward famine and starvation.”

The FAO report which states that Congo has about 21.8 million people that are acutely food insecure, also points out that Burkina Faso has witnessed an almost 300% uptick in the overall number of people experiencing acute hunger since the start of 2020.

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Around the World

US government to ban WeChat and TikTok from app stores

Chinese-owned social media apps are facing a ban in the US over national security concerns.

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Reasons why a record number of people are giving up their US citizenship, US approves chloroquine as treatment for coronavirus COVID-19, Nigeria U.S. Donald Trump-oil prices

The United States government says it will ban the services of Chinese tech giants, WeChat and TikTok, from online mobile application stores in the U.S. It also plans to prohibit any funds transfer/payment services through the WeChat mobile application.

This was announced by the U.S Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, in a statement on Friday, following President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders (E.O.) 13942 and E.O. 13943, on the 6th of August.

“In response to President Trump’s Executive Orders signed August 6, 2020, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today announced prohibitions on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the United States,” said Wilbur Ross.

He added that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has proven it has the means and the motive to use Chinese tech apps, to threaten America’s national security foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S.

He said the following transactions will be prohibited from September 20th for WeChat and November 12th for TikTok

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  • Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates, through an online mobile application store in the U.S.
  • Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application, for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.

Mr. Ross said that with the Executive Order, the US government has taken a ‘significant action’ in fighting China’s malicious personal data breach on American citizens, and also promote democratic rule-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.

The U.S government announced that further prohibitive measures, relating to both companies may be announced in the future.

“Should the U.S. Government determine that WeChat’s or TikTok’s illicit behavior is being replicated by another app somehow outside the scope of these executive orders, the President has the authority to consider whether additional orders may be appropriate to address such activities.”

President Trump has given until November 12, to resolve the TikTok security concerns of the US. He added that the prohibitions may be lifted, if they are addressed.

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Companies

GMD, 2 Executive Directors buy 5 million additional units of Zenith Bank Plc shares

In three separate transactions, major stakeholders purchased 5 million units of Zenith Bank’s shares.

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Executive Director buys 2 million additional Units of Zenith Bank Plc Shares.

Zenith Bank Plc, Group Managing Director, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, and two Executive Directors, Messrs. Dennis Olisa and Ahmed Umar Shuaib, have purchased an aggregate of 5 million units of additional Zenith Bank Plc shares.

This was disclosed by the bank, in a notification sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and seen by Nairametrics.

According to the notification, signed by the Company’s secretary, Michael Osilama Otu, the purchase was made in the bourse, over three transactions on the 16th and 17th of September, 2020.

As part of the regulatory requirements, the disclosure must be reported to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, especially when the trade is executed by a major shareholder or director of a listed firm.

Breakdown of the deal

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According to the details of the deal verified by Nairametrics, Mr. Dennis Olisa pulled the highest deal as he purchased 2,000,000 additional units of Zenith Bank Plc’s shares at an average of N17.18 per unit, totaling N34.36 million. Mr. Ahmed Umar Shuaib also purchased 2,000,000 additional units of the Bank’s share, at an average price of N16.99 worth N33.98 million. Completing the trio was, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu who purchased 1,000,000 additional units at an average of N17.05 worth N17.05 million.

This major purchase boosted the total number of trade deals (Volume) posted by the Bank in the NSE market, as the deals contributed about 11.61% of the Bank’s total deals between 16th and 17th of September, 2020.

(READ MORE: Zenith Bank rewards customers with massive giveaways in the “Zenith Beta Life” weekly promo)

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What this means

Based on the recently released H1 2020 Financial Results of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu had 45,500,000 direct shares as of June 30, 2020. Mr. Ahmed Umar Shuaib had 7,577,343 direct shares, while Mr. Dennis Olisa had 7,122,316 direct shares. All these remained unchanged from their reported shares in H1 2019.

With the addition of 1,000,000 shares, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu’s stake increased to 46,500,000, indicating an increase of 2.19%. Mr. Ahmed Shuaib’s shares also leaped by 26.39% to 9,577,343, while Mr. Deniss Olisa’s shares increased by 28.08% to 9,122,316 direct shares.

This deal may signify that the Bank’s insiders expect an increase in share price. It is a positive signal to outsiders, coming from top insiders who are abreast with latest information on the Bank’s prospects.

This can play a vital role in stimulating a bullish trend. Zenith Bank’s share price is currently trading at N16.70 on the NSE.

Conclusion

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Regardless of the impact of the pandemic on the income and revenue of banks, Zenith bank still remained one of the high-flying financial organizations in Nigeria. For example, the tier-1 bank’s gross earnings grew by 4.37% from N331.5 billion in H1 2019 to N346.1 billion in H1, 2020. Its Profit After Tax increased by 16.81% from N111.7 billion to N114.1 billion within the period under review. The aforementioned factors might have been the reason behind the recent bullish trend for its stock.

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