Forbes Afrique dives into the world of the Business of Luxury in Africa, a business Forbes describes as a billion dollar industry in Africa, with Jennifer Obayuwana as the cover star.
In West Africa, that market is ruled by Polo Limited, a 30 year old business responsible for the proliferation of luxury goods. With locations in Nigeria and Ghana, Polo Luxury is at the forefront of luxury sales in West Africa. Despite the economic outlook in Nigeria, this is an industry that has maintained consistency in the African Sector.
In the Forbes Afrique cover story,Cartier Africa CEO, Alessandro Patti says,
“We (Cartier) see Nigeria as a strategic market with great potential. Being very satisfied with the results with our partner Polo Luxury Group, it was natural to opt for a long-term vision. In 2016, a Cartier watchmaker area was installed in the Polo Avenue at Hilton’s multi-brand in Abuja. Over the years, Nigeria and Cartier have developed a strong relationship and we are proud of the development of our activities. Our clientele is made up of connoisseurs looking for the know-how, beauty, creativity and elegance that make Cartier’s success. As far as watchmaking is concerned, generous diameters and complicated movements are preferred.
Read excerpts from Jennifer’s interview below:
On the story of Polo Luxury: Polo Luxury is a labor of love and hard work founded 30 years ago by my father, John Obayuwana. Born from the desire to spread beauty and nobility. Our company was created to enrich people’s lives with products of the finest quality and craftsmanship.
Over the years, Polo has evolved into an enterprise that consists of Polo Limited and Polo Avenue that offers a diverse portfolio of the world’s prestigious luxury brands, such as Rolex, Cartier, Chopard, Hublot, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana. My father played a momentous role as a pioneer in this field, defining and shaping the luxury industry in West Africa at a time where it was non-existent.
On her position with Polo: As the daughter of a pioneer in the luxury industry, I grew up with a passion and interest in luxury and beauty that ultimately lead me into the path of the family business. I grew up in the business. Every summer holiday, I worked in sales on the shop floor. I also believe I was equipped for the role early on by studying International Business Administration at the American University of Paris and International Relations in Franklin. Those experiences helped mold me into the woman that I am today. I’ve also pursued Executive courses in INSEAD, Lagos Business School and Colombia which has positioned me effectively to be able to add value to the organization.
On her special approach to management and women leading differently than men: Firstly I would say being a good listener. While a majority of decision-making rests with the leader, there is so much to learn from one’s teammates when you patiently listen to their views and opinions. Secondly, I would say service. All great leaders (women alike) should serve others. This is at the heart of Polo Luxury’s success as a whole. In response to the latter part of the question, I strongly believe that women lead intuitively. In my opinion, Women in high-level positions exhibit the same leadership behaviors as their male counterparts.
On the business model of the luxury industry in Nigeria: Nigeria is the largest market in Africa and with the purchasing power of Nigerians steadily on the rise, I would say quality partnerships and impeccable one-on-one service are the working models for our business within the region. We ensure that we get the best from our international partners, keeping the focus on the best of After Sales Service. For example, we have a Rolex installed service centre with highly qualified horologists, trained to the highest standards by our technical partners Chopard, Rolex, Longines etc. This and many more unique quality service help retain our leading position in the industry.
Read more in the latest issue of Forbes Afrique.