Sujimoto @ 5: How I turned adversity into prosperity
After almost 15 years of living abroad, I knew that moving back to Nigeria would not be an easy task. I had worked for multinationals, Saudi Arabian Investment firms, trained Venture Capitalists without a degree to my name, engaged in Project Management and Project Finance, sat with Kings and dined with industry leaders, and have been to every corner in every continent. So my moving back was beyond profit maximization, but a matter of patriotism. I wanted to do something different; I wanted to redefine the Nigerian Luxury Real Estate Industry.
One of my greatest motivations was when I visited my Aunts’ supposed brand new house in Banana Island and realised that it needed complete renovation. She paid almost 350 Million Naira for the said house and I didn’t understand why she had to pay so much and receive so little in terms of value.
This realization reawakened my passion and opened up an opportunity in the luxury real estate market, to adopt quality as the business plan for Sujimoto.
The goal was to bring all my international experience and expertise into redefining the way people live in Nigeria. I was lucky to have returned at a time when Nigerians were tired of the mediocrity paraded as ‘luxury’ properties and had started demanding value for their money.
It was very clear to me at the beginning that luxury is not expensive, but it is the intention to deliver luxury that is expensive.
With top quality housing at a shortage, my aim was to develop properties which rival or even outclass most of the ones we see overseas today.
I spent months researching my competition, understanding their strengths, weaknesses and studying the industry thoroughly. I was keen to know what makes them tick. I checked into one of the most luxurious and expensive serviced apartment in Lagos owned by Caldwell – West Forster Harbour on Queen’s Drive, Ikoyi. I visited other developments; many were disappointing, while a few held promises. I saw mediocrity living side by side with opportunities.
While I didn’t have a rich Uncle or a powerful Aunty, I had determination, perseverance and an understanding that mediocrity can’t stand a chance against the extraordinary.
In the quest to set new standards and break barriers, we travelled to Dubai, Johannesburg, New York and Tokyo, lodged in 5-star hotels, visited many construction sites and came to the conclusion that quality, attention to detail and customer satisfaction remains at the heart of value creation.
At this stage, it was very clear to us that anything lower than luxury wasn’t in the Sujimoto DNA.
We knew that to be like the Trump, the Emaar Group and even the Candy Brothers, we needed to inject a dose of integrity, integrity of our team, integrity in the delivery of quality and integrity in our processes.
Whilst growing up, I knew that poverty was my biggest fear and motivation. To be successful, I needed to take my destiny into my own hands.
My inspiration comes from stories of young men, one who sold coal to fund his education and became Africa’s most revered billionaires (MKO) and another who started a trillion dollar empire in his mother’s garage (Steve Jobs).
I knew that it didn’t matter if I grew up in the corners of Agege or on the streets of Ikorodu, with unrelenting determination, I could make it to the Mansions of Ikoyi.
Nigeria has an increasing number of luxury houses. From the recent Tony Ezenna mansion to the multi billion naira mansion of the Alakijas, Dangote’s Victoria Island paradise, Otedola’s Ikoyi haven and Ighalo’s flamboyant abode, it is clear that luxury living has gone beyond social media hype. It is about value creation and providing long-lasting assets for the next generation.
At Sujimoto, we do not just buy land to build and sell; we do something we call ‘product development’, where we are not only focused on product differentiation, but also on customer satisfaction. Our philosophy is simple, to not do things 10 percent better, but 10 times better.
We will not be one of those developers whose emphasis on profit maximization supersedes value creation.
All of our existing projects and upcoming ones are extremely customer oriented, with a focus on giving our clients maximum and unrivaled value.
In recent times, the bad economic situation of the country has had me thinking about investing in other sectors but nothing has enticed me enough to take me away from Luxury Real Estate.
At the moment, we are building the tallest residential building in Banana Island
and we are poised to be the first developer in Nigeria to use Glass Reinforced Concrete facade (GRC), to clad our buildings.
Upon completion, this project will be the best condominium in Africa where investors will have 4 Bedroom Maisonette, approximately 600m2 of space, with 4 car parks and an interactive lobby. We aim for its penthouses to be the best in Africa with each one having a private mini-golf garden and a private pool.
The Leonardo is another condominium, which is set to disrupt luxury living
by putting villas in the sky. Erected on 17 floors, it will host 92 units of 2, 3 and 4 Bedroom Apartments, Sandwich Bar, Private Gym, Crèche and many more. Another Exciting project, the Louvre is a private Cabaret and restaurant with hints of Paris, fine Mediterranean dining and a touch of African fusion. The meals will be accompanied by top notch entertainment such as acrobatics, music and magic.
Also in the waiting is the Moto Sanitary Ware is set to become a global brand, where rich clay from the historic city of Zaria – town of the great Queen Amina, will be used in beautifying taps, washing hand basins and other bathroom fittings. The Moto Sanitary Ware is set to become a global brand delivering exclusivity and premium quality sanitary wares from Africa to Asia and even to the hinterlands of America. The Sujimoto Center, a luxury event centre, will redefine event hosting and give celebration a whole new dimension.
Finally The ‘S’ – an African hotel similar to the W Hotel, but infused with the Four Seasons’ services and standards, will be the number one-stop-shop when it comes to luxury hospitality in West Africa.
To mark an audacious milestone in the history of our organization, we are putting together a bold, colourful and exclusive event tagged ‘Sujimoto is 5” in the heart of Africa’s most exclusive neighbourhood – Banana Island.
We are bringing together A-list Artistes, premium Celebrities, the best Comedians, Socialiates, HNIs and International acrobats, dancers and performances. It is going to be a night of fun, finesse, music and extraordinary experiences, where culinary experience meets luxury living.
This event is a way of celebrating the resilience, perseverance and determination of our clients over the years, who have helped us turned adversity into opportunity and austerity into prosperity.
We can see that we are going through the toughest period in the history of our nation, especially in the political scene. We know that Real Estate sector is directly affected by economic developments. While it is also true that Nigeria has seen a downturn in its Real Estate Market, but this is also the best time to invest for there are a thousand opportunities in Banana Island and Ikoyi.
People talk about empty apartments In Banana Island and Ikoyi but at Sujimoto, our apartments are not empty because quality sells itself.
The off-takers who bought our property at 300 Million last year have resold for 450 Million, in less than 12 Months.
Even our current property, which has not been completed, is sold out. We were able to accomplish this great feat due to the quality of our finishing and unbeatable price for luxury.
Despite the harsh economic downturn and drop in Real Estate value, properties in Ikoyi and Banana Island have shown great stability and growth in value. Land selling for 350 million in 2016 now sells for 650 million naira; this shows that investing in luxury real estate commands the most stable and highest return on investment. More than ever before, Nigerians are beginning to realise that luxury is more than just the house, it’s the location.
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