Interview with Ville Heistola, Head of Construction Scandic Lion


    Mr Ville Heistola, Partner, Head of Construction Scandic Lion Ltd

    Mr Ville Heistola is originally from A small town called Padasjoki from Finland. He first visited Nigeria in 2008 and has lived Kwara, Nasarawa and Lagos. He came back to Nigeria in the beginning of 2018 to run a Finnish construction machinery company. Mr. Heistola formed Scandic Lion Ltd, a real estate development and construction company, in 2018 with the help of some Finland based investors. The company’s first project is called Scandic Court 1 which is situated in Ikate-Elegushi (Lekki) area of Lagos.

    Can you tell us a little about yourself?

    My name is Ville Heistola. I was born and raised in Finland which is in the North of Europe. My first experience of Nigeria was in 2008. I came to work in an agricultural project. Since then I have been in and out until beginning of 2018, after which I started calling Lagos Nigeria my home. During my stay in Nigeria I have lived in Lagos, Kwara and Nasarawa.

    How has it been like working and living in Nigeria?

    Nigeria has been a very interesting and exciting place to work and live. People are energetic and ready to work. Food is also good. It’s usually rice and chicken for me, but I eat pounded yam and fufu regularly. Some egusi or vegetable stew to go with it (laughs). In Lagos traffic is probably the biggest minus I can think of. My days go mainly at work, gym and sleeping. The development in Lagos especially in Lekki area has been amazing. I remember visiting the area in 2008 and seeing it now is just mind blowing.

    What do you think about the Nigerian Housing industry?

    The Nigerian housing industry has so much potential because of the simple fact that with rising population and urbanization people will need new homes and clearly there are not enough homes in the market. There are a lot of figures that people throw around from 12 million to 17 million homes missing from the market. It is hard to know which statistics are really true. The Housing industry in Nigeria is evolving and the tastes of Nigerians too. Standards and supervision are getting better, especially in Lagos thanks to Lagos State government. There are of course some issues especially regarding infrastructure that could and should be provided by the government like roads, waste management and power. Nigerians are however probably the most innovative beings as they are always able to work around these issues. Instead of complaining I have joined the people that will change and challenge these issues by action not just talk. I have brought my experience of working in the Nordic Countries to Nigeria’s housing industry and currently actively developing residential units in Lagos.

    Tell us about Scandic Lion?

    Scandic Lion as a company was formed with a few investors from Finland when I realised the great need for reasonably priced and quality finished homes in Nigeria. It is a fully owned subsidiary of a Finland based investment company. The ambition is to combine best practices from two cultures in order to create lasting value for home owners in the greater Lagos area. The people involved in Scandic Lion have an enormous amount of international real estate experience, which can be put to good use here. 

    I have looked at so many apartments in Nigeria and in most cases I have been very disappointed by what I have seen. A lot of houses and homes have a lot of potential, but execution has turned these homes into something else. This mainly because of lack of detail in construction and especially in finishing. Also, some of the prices developers of these poorly done properties ask for are ridiculous. Scandic Lion was basically formed last year to solve these problems, problems I witnessed first hand as a potential property buyer. The problem is to find reasonably priced, but well finished apartments with attention to detail. I want to be able to demand reliability and quality, even though I am not a billionaire. I want to trust the delvelopers construction schedules – it matters very much to buyers when a house is finished! That also seems like something a lot of Nigerian developers do not care about. Many projects are years late from the set delivery date.

    Scandic Lion set out to provide value for buyers – but we also noticed that real estate transparency lags compared to other markets. In order to create a smoothly functioning market for buyers, you need information. As a step towards this, Scandic Lion also publishes the Scandic Lion Lagos Property Barometer, a survey conducted among realtors to gauge property price expectations. Everyone gains from more market statistics!

    What do you think Scandic Lion can bring to the industry?

    From the inception we have promised ourselves to be the most transparent real estate developer in Nigeria. If you go to our website or any of our social media handles you can see almost daily updates of how our projects evplve. We also provide pricing information of our properties publicly and information on all the other fees related to the transaction. Our projects are contemporary designed homes with a lot of time and care invested in the functionality of the home – and we want our buyers to know how we work. We do construction and supervision of all our projects ourselves, so we can gurantee the finished product. That’s what transparency means for us. 

    What projects do you currently have going on?

    We are currently developing a beautiful 8 unit building in Lekki  with 3 bedroom apartments (almost all units are sold). We have started works on another similar apartment building with expected delivery early 2020, and are actively looking for the next residential projects. Scandic Lion is more than interested in cooperation with potential development partners. We are also planning to engage ourselves in a hotel project in Lagos – we see a lot of potential in the hospitality sector. These are very exciting times at Scandic Lion. Please check our website for more information.