African luxury brands grow

16 January 2013

PARIS: Retailers and brand owners are reporting an increased interest in luxury products in Africa, with demand growing at home and abroad for high-end indigenous brands, in addition to established western players.

According to the The Africa Report, local buyers have a keen focus on African brands, with these home-grown names taking the opportunity to establish themselves on the global market.

One such is Patrick Mavros, a Zimbabwean jewellery company with a flagship store in London. "African luxury is a rarity," says Forbes Mavros, son of the brand's founder. "There are not many brands that have touched the international pulse and remained African in their identity."

Swaady Martin-Leke, the founder of South African luxury tea brand YSWARA, observed that many African luxury consumers have travelled abroad and want products that reflect their identity.

"They might want a Chanel watch, but they also want a beautiful couture ankara dress," she said. "They have the money to buy Yves Saint Laurent, but they want African designers."

South Africa is a noted wine producer and top-end products such as The Jem from Waterford Estates, starting at US$80 a bottle, are proving popular domestically.

Other African nations are also starting to pick up on wine-drinking, with Kenya now the biggest African importer of South African wines, taking in 6m bottles in 2012.

Among established luxury brands, jeweller Cartier has seen a rise in sales across the continent. Bruno Carraz, the company's managing director for Africa noted that, "We have recently strengthened our relationship with our Nigeria partner and improved our distribution channels in many countries like Angola and Côte d'Ivoire."

Various statistics bear out this anecdotal evidence. The World Wealth Report from CapGemini and Merrill Lynch found that the number of high-net-worth individuals in Africa rose by 3.9% between 2010 and 2011 to 100,000.

Equally, figures from Euromonitor International show spending on luxury goods in South Africa rose from $628.5m in 2007 to more than $1bn in 2012.

Data sourced from The Africa Report; additional content by Warc staff