Apart from the fact that one is a continent and the other a country, Africa is the new China. This seems like an odd idea at first. After all, China has a booming economy, and African countries are poverty-stricken, politically volatile, and unjustifiable business risks. Right? Wrong.
Cosmetics giant L’Oréal is eyeing up fast-growing economies such as Rwanda and Ghana as the European markets are reported to be experiencing shrinking revenues.
Richard Vedelago is 29 years old and worth more millions than he’s prepared to tell. ‘Money talks, but wealth whispers,’ he says with a smile, sitting back in the bar at Claridge’s – his idea – and lazily sipping an elderflower juice.
At the turn of the century well-off Nigerians struggled to shop in style. Most had to jostle in local markets to buy food or travel to the UK, US or Middle East to replenish their wardrobes.
Two weeks ago a retail outlet of the US cosmetics brand MAC launched in Nairobi, the first in East Africa.
Luxury retailers are eyeing the African continent as one of the next frontier markets. “Luxury in Africa is a hot topic,” says Oliver Merkel, a partner at Bain & Company, a management consultancy.
After apparently being “inundated” with requests for the cosmetics brand by consumers, Estée Lauder recently launched its MAC cosmetics brand in Nigeria; on the back of that successful market entry, the company has now confirmed it is eyeing up other Sub-Saharan Africa opportunities.