VENTURES AFRICA – In keeping with its status as one of the most exciting fashion destinations in the world, Selfridges & Co launched Ndani, the Nigerian Fashion Project, in December 2012.
Any self confessed shopper will have spent a huge portion of their disposable income in Selfridges & Co, an international award winning department store in the United Kingdom with a “open to the world” philosophy. With an “up and coming”, busy and modern technology approach to retail, it has been embracing the multicultural UK society and more importantly, it’s’ biggest financial spenders.
Home to a large African Diaspora, the UK is a popular travel destination for Nigerians visiting friends and relatives, going on holidays or conducting business. More economically, it has become a shopping Mecca. In February last year, sales to Nigerians were up 50 per cent from 2011 in London shops. Selfridges & Co reported that their spending was up by over a quarter in 2011, and that Nigerians have been among its top 10 overseas shoppers for the past five years.
“Africa is growing from strength to strength and particularly in the last 12 to 18 months we’ve seen Nigeria come through incredibly strongly,” explains Sue West, director of operations at up-market London department store Selfridges & Co.
Whilst poverty in Nigeria is declining, only a small slice of Nigeria’s population can afford consumer goods, with most purchases coming from the very low end of the price spectrum. But consumption is steadily rising. According to the EIU report, by 2030, Africa’s top 18 countries could have a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion.
An Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report entitled “Africa: Open for Business,” forecasted a nearly 4% real GDP growth for Sub-Saharan countries Angola, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa for 2012, with average growth expected to hit 5% a year from 2013 to 2016. This steady progress has given rise to a growing middle class. Approximately 310 million people in Africa are classified as middle class according to a 2011 report by the African Development Bank, driving demand for products like mobile phones, televisions and fashion.
The Ndani project was collaboration between Selfridges & Co and Style House Files, which was to help the retailer engage with its growing number of Nigerian customers.
The Lagos-based fashion company opened the installation, giving Nigerian designers a chance to widen their market and showcase their creations outside the West Africa. Ndani, backed by Guaranty Trust Bank, presented the very best Spring-Summer 2013 pieces hand-picked from the runway shows of the most outstanding designers on the Lagos Fashion and Design Week schedule.
Omoyemi Akerele, director of Style House Files, says that Nigeria is an emerging market, with Nigerians are among the five biggest spenders at the department store.
“This will give our designers a platform, an opportunity for their pieces to be in Selfridges & Co, that’s a dream come true,” says Akerele. “For Selfridges & Co, on the other hand, it would endear their Nigerian customers — and not just Nigerian customers, African in general — more to the brand.”
Is this the beginning of bilateral fashion trade, between Nigeria, or Africa and the United Kingdom? Will Selfridges & Co benefit from the Ndani collaboration with the Nigeria local industry beacons like the Style House File, who can offer local knowledge and contacts? Or will it need more installations in the flagship store before it opens its store in Abuja? It looks like there are exciting prospects ahead.