In a market notorious for its extreme violence, criminality and terrorism, Nigeria boasts one of the highest levels of corruption in the world. Corruption is yet another daily normal routine, at all levels, whether it is obtaining a driving license or even a university degree to being awarded a government financed project. To no surprise, corruption has been nurturing in Nigeria a ‘luxury market’ that purely serves the purposes of bribes.
During my visit to the country, I was told that, depending on the value one is seeking to obtain, there is a certain watch brand that goes with it and, most importantly it has to be a ‘very well known’ brand with a design recognisable from a distance and it must be genuine. Obviously, one cannot offer as a gift a watch the authenticity of which cannot be verified. This also explains why the largest part of the local luxury market is dominated by watches, accessories and jewellery – all of brands being present in wholesale / multi-brand distribution.
While brands such as Audemars Piguet and Hublot which would make it to the top of the infamous ‘list’ for gifting, have been stubbornly resisting any form of distribution or presence in Nigeria. At the same time, Bvlgari, Breguet and Franck Muller had withdrawn from the market a few years ago, other international major luxury watch and jewellery brands have been ‘thriving’ in Nigeria. IWC representatives visited Lagos in 2017, however, their watches are not yet officially represented in Nigeria.
That is why, not surprisingly, the highest concentration of luxury boutiques operate not in the country’s largest city, Lagos, but in the capital of Abuja, which is home to all state authorities, including the government. It is easier flying to Abuja on a direct flight from Frankfurt, Paris, Dubai, Istanbul than actually flying from Lagos to Abuja. While Lagos boasts several international luxury branded hotels, Abuja’s only ‘five star’ hotel is the Transcorp Hilton. There are two major luxury watch distributors which represent Rolex, Cartier, Roger Dubuis, Chopard, Montblanc, Piaget, Zenith and Ulysse-Nardin.
Speaking during his recent visit to Lagos, Nigeria, Cartier‘s Managing Director, Africa and Israel, Alessandro Patti stated that “The Cartier brand has maintained its strong positioning due to its unique timeless pieces, creativity and innovation in meeting client’s needs all over the world and ensuring they are satisfied when they wear their unique Cartier timepiece with a sense of pride and fulfilment at any time.”
Speaking to CNN, the CEO of one of the largest luxury watches and jewellery retailers in Nigeria said: “Nigerians have an insatiable need for luxury and they consume it. We’re very flamboyant and you see that in our weddings. So it fits in perfectly with our business because Nigerians are huge consumers of luxury. When I came in to the business, I felt that it would be important to serve the emerging middle class that we saw rising very fast. In order to do that, I thought it was important for us to open up new stores, expand the business [and] bring in some new brands.”
While such gifting practices have been cracked down in other similar emerging markets such as China, it is very unlikely that we shall see these practices eradicated in Nigeria. Nigeria’s luxury market is second only to Egypt in Africa when it comes to the value of luxury goods sold locally and this includes an astonishing number of private jets.
An in-depth research and up-to-date investigation is coming up later this month on CPP-LUXURY.COM.
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