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‘Ireland is a growing country’

Last update - Thursday, July 23, 2009, 12:51 By Charlie Johnson

From Nigeria (by way of Germany), John Chigbu tells Charlie Johnson how multicultural Ireland has been a boon for his wholesale foods and snacks business

Chiggy Chin Limited is a wholesale distributor of food products from around the globe.  And its owner, John Chigbu, he’s from all around the globe as well.
Originally from Nigeria, Chigbu worked as a night manager in several hotels throughout Germany before deciding to make his own way in business – supplying top-class hotels with food and bar snacks through his wholesale distribution company, Chiggy Chin Ltd.
But it’s in Ireland where his business has truly found its legs, and has since expanded its range with an array of African and Asian products under the brand name Exotic Foods.
“Ireland is a growing country, which Germany isn’t right now,” says Chigbu. “It’s much easier to expand the business here than it is to expand in Germany.” 
If Chigbu was seeking a better climate in which to expand his business, he certainly found it in the diversity of new Ireland.
And since setting in Ireland with his German wife and two young children in 2005, Chiggy Chin has swelled its range of offerings – including cans of wasabi flavored peanuts, 50kg bags of Thai jasmine rice, and lately non-alcoholic sparkling wines. 
“We have really progressed from where we were before, in Germany,” says Chigbu. “Switching into the African and Asian market was a very good decision. There is a much larger black community in Ireland than in Germany.”
And while business is better in Ireland, life is better too, according to Chigbu.
“Living in Germany was a good experience, because you get to look at different cultures and different people,” he explains.
“Coming from Nigeria, it was very different.  There was cold weather and cold people. I have to say I found the Germans cold.
“In Ireland, it may be rainy, but people here are very warm. That’s what I have enjoyed most, how warm the Irish people can be.”
Never one to be confined to a single country – or even a single continent – Chigbu is looking to expand his business to include a branch back in Germany, despite the recession.
“Because of our expansion, we may not ever have a permanent place to stay,” he says of his international aspirations. “In fact, we’re working hard to make sure we don’t have a permanent place. I can’t tell you if we will stay in Ireland or not. We’re on the road.”

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