Competition Cramps Christmas Bazaar
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nejib Mohammed, 25, was standing on a stool and vying for the attention of visitors at the Christmas Bazaar being held at the Addis Abeba Exhibition & Marketing Development Enterprise (AAEMDE) in Meskel Square, on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 1, 2014.
He was busy displaying locally produced jackets, sweaters, vests, t-shirts, underwear and bags to visitors. He and his four assistants, all of whom work at Zimun Fashion Plc - a garment producer established five years ago - stood on stools and enthusiastically invited the throng of visitors to view their items.
"It has helped us very much," Nejib, who was in a vibrant mood, said. "Visitors need something appealing and we have it; at least by the way we welcome them."
It was the first time for the Company to make it to the Christmas fair. Although managing to attract quite a lot of customers, they still had competition from similar products on offer from other companies.
At another booth, Wolela Bedilu and Yemsirach Kassahun, both sales assistants from a company that produces cosmetics, complained that there were only minimal sales, if any. Their company, TC Trading, had paid 17,000 Br for the nine square metre space.
"It's our fourth year here," says Yemisrach. "The increasing number of companies with similar products is posing a real challenge."
They also complained that the booth rent they paid was nearly double the 9,000 Br it was four years ago, when they first participated. Their concern was shared by others, including Chala Ambissa, who had a larger space in a shade out of the halls, where he was displaying home and office furniture.
Daniel Workshet, general manager of Afrodan, rejects the complaints lodged by participants about the increase in rent.
"You can't expect a price, which existed four years ago, to be offered today," he said. "We have incurred high costs for musical acts, some of which have come from Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia."
Daniel and some of his colleagues said that some participants were caught renting out parts of their booths to others not included in the event. The trend, they say, subsided when they threatened to take punitive measures.
The visitors, too, felt that they were being overcharged for some of the products.
"I can buy these items for a better price in any shop," said Abeba Mesele, a visitor who wanted to buy frying pans and cookers, but felt the prices were exaggerated.
The exhibitors complain of making only marginal profits, but still they are offering the visitors a wide array of products, including raw beef being sold behind liquor booths. Saving the day for some of the visitors who find themselves short of cash were the booths of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and NIB International Bank (NIB).
When Zimam Abadi came to the bazaar on Thursday, January 2, 2014, she only expected to purchase some toys for her children. But, her expectations were unmatched by the reality she faced inside. The edible oil she found at the Addis-Modjo Food Complex was appealing. She still had some money left after buying the oil. Then a perfume of her choice, which was being sold for an affordable price ,caught her eye. It was after realising that she was almost running out of money that she remembered seeing the CBE booth inside the hall. She had her bank book with her and was able to withdraw money.
One aspect that stands out as peculiar in the 15-day-long bazaar is the disparity between male and female customers. Right from the main gate, where tickets are sold for 10 Br each, women, particularly young ones, are seen. Inside too, women predominantly stand out in the crowd of people.
These crowds started coming in bigger throngs after the first three or four days, which many say were dull and boring. The visitors included music fans, gathering and filling seats opposite the big stage for the music and dance shows.
While an average of 10,000 visitors flock daily to the Bazaar, according to the organisers, they expect this number to rise considerably in the last two days of the event. By then, many products will begin advertising discounts.
Afrodan, which was established in 1995 and claims a track record 37 events, including five outside Ethiopia, is organising the event after winning the tender, opened in July. There were only three companies, including Debole - a rookie in the business - to make offers to the Enterprise, out of 14 that had bought the bid document. The tender was floated for a second time, two months ago.
The two traditionally competing holiday event organisers, Afrodan and Century, ran against each other for this bazaar, offering 3.7 million Br and 3.6 million Br, respectively.
Afrodan will also prepare the Ethio-South Sudan Exhibition, to be held in Juba in February 2014, says Daniel, general manager of Afrodan.
Copyright Addis Fortune. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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