‘We’re on a mission to contribute to growth of African luxury using Nigeria as focal point’
Exactly five years ago, Funke-Osae-Brown resigned her appointment with BusinessDay newspapers to set up The Luxury Reporter brand. Today, the idea, which started online, has metamorphosed into full-fledged 360 Media Company with special interest in luxury reporting. In this interview with CHUKS NWANNE, Osae-Brown, who said the idea for the magazine came to her at a point in her career when she knew she wanted to embark on a new adventure, spoke on the fifth anniversary and future plans.
It’s five years since your started Luxury Reporter, how has the experience been?
It has been an interesting journey that is full of challenges some of which we have been able to surmount; some others we are in the process of getting over. It is not easy when you are beaming a light into an industry that not many people have decided to report or write about. We are happy that five years later, African luxury is getting tremendous attention.
What do you consider your major achievement on this journey?
Our achievements in the last five years are handful. When we started five years ago, we had a vision to be a one-stop Nigeria based multimedia-company, with offerings across all platforms; print and digital upscale lifestyle magazine published for that man or woman of class with a taste for rare quality. Have we been able to achieve this? The answer is yes. We have been able to create original content as we have unveiled quiet players in the local luxury sector, who ordinarily won’t like media mention or they are very discreet about which medium tell their stories. In addition, we have been able to start a quarterly print edition three years after we went live on www.luxuryreporter.ng. We have done more than 24 digital editions and if we had the e-version of the print edition, it will be 30 in total.
We are on a mission to contribute to the growth of African luxury using Nigeria as a focal point. Charity they say, begin at home. We have a mission to provide well researched, quality and interesting contents on the emerging Nigerian and African Luxury sector. We also want to inform, educate readers on the developments in the African Luxury Sector and contribute to the growth of the Nigerian luxury sector by offering trainings, seminars, and conferences to players in the industry.
Besides the usual challenges with doing business in Nigeria, are there specific difficulties in this line of journalism?
We operate in an industry where players are very discreet about brands they associate with; we understood this perfectly from the onset. We knew there would be many difficulties in accessing some key players. But I can tell you we have been able to build a lasting relationship with some major players whose brand ideologies correspond with ours. They are not the regular noisy ones, but they just love to do things in their little corners; they are indeed making strong statements with their brands. Looking back, we are happy about the progress we have made, as we are ready to take on new challenges that come with the terrain.
You started online, at what point didn’t you decide to go on print and why?
Yes, we started online five years ago. Three years into the business, we identified a market for print. Hotels, private jets operators, airlines, automobile companies, retail stores need print editions for their clients to read or glance through at their lobbies, lounges, or rooms. In January 2018, we announced our first print edition, which had on the cover emerging brands and a buyer, Abela, TPS Luxury, Pere Lei, Okiki Marinho, Scentify and Ndidi Obioha.
How is the print doing so far?
It is doing remarkably well; we have people, who want copies in their hotels, showrooms among others. The comment about the quality of content and print quality has been positive.
The print edition paved way for our exclusive partnership with PrivateJets Nigeria. The partnership is advertisers in The Luxury Reporter print edition; they will have 30 seconds clips of their advert placed in the in-flight entertainment screen of all the aircrafts of PrivateJets; it’s like getting two for the price of one. In other words, your products, goods and services will be shown to the right kind of HNIs (High Networth Individuals).
The Luxury Reporter magazines are also strategically placed at the Legend Curios Hotel, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, FirstBank Lounge at MMIA, Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, VI, All Glendora Bookstores at Ikeja City Mall, MMA 2, GAT, Eagle Ventures Arik Wing, Terra Kulture, Quintessence Parkview Ikoyi, among others. In the next few days, we will add more outlets like Shoprite and SPAR.
Having been reporting the luxury sector for five years now, what’s the situation with the sector?
The sector is facing many challenges some of which were discussed at the celebration of our 5thAnniversary held at The Wheatbaker Hotel on Thursday June 20, 2019. Our keynote speaker, Mrs Modupe Ogunlesi, CEO, Adam & Eve Homeware, who has over two decades on luxury retail, spoke extensively on Luxury Retail In Nigeria: The Opportunities, Challenges and Policy Options. She delved into the nature of luxury, which is critical to be a player in the sector. If you don’t know the meaning of luxury, there’s no way you can understand the market you are catering to.
In addition, there is a dearth of appropriate retail spaces for players in the sector. Most of the shopping malls we have around do not have the right infrastructure to accommodate luxury brands in their malls. Next to that is the lack of data on consumption patterns of consumers and also how to track sales in the sector. Most HNIs in Africa shop come from abroad most especially Europe and America. This makes it possible for Europe and America to have data on how much is spent by Africans in their countries; we don’t have such here. Another challenge is the issue of pricing; some argue that some brands are overpriced. There are so many issues, but we hope the right policies can be put in place for the sector to thrive better.
Would you say the Nigerian luxury sector is active now?
The Nigerian luxury sector is emerging and there’s an opportunity for luxury retail to thrive. The Nigerian sector offers local and international brands to thrive giving consumers opportunities to thrive. Our vision is to report on the African Luxury by projecting Nigerian brands. We are constantly in search of indigenous luxury brands that will compete with international brands; we believe this will contribute to economic growth of Africa. Furthermore, it is no longer news that Nigerians top the list of high spenders; they spend on luxury brands. At TLR, we don’t just want Nigeria to be a consumer of luxury, but also manufacturer of luxury products that can compete with their counterparts not just on the continent but globally. It is for this reason we have been deliberate in our approach to reporting on luxury lifestyle by featuring top players in the industry some of whom are quiet players in the local luxury sector. And we have been reporting on emerging luxury brands on the continent.
In addition, we hope to bridge the divide between African Luxury brands and their counterparts abroad. In a bid to kick start this, we attended the 2019 edition of the Baselworld in Switzerland where we interacted with CEOs of renowned luxury brands in the watch and jewellery sector. We also had exclusive interviews with some new brands and some other major players. Some of them are in the latest edition of the magazine that will be unveiled here today.
We also plan to attend more jewellery shows in Singapore, Las Vegas, the Monaco Yacht show among other events in the coming years. Part of our plans in the near future is to start training emerging luxury brands on how to position themselves as top players in the world. We hope to create a symbiotic relationship between African and global luxury brands so they can share experiences and expertise. The journey is long, but we know that with sure steady steps and consistency, we will get there.
What was the idea behind the TLR International Luxury Conference?
Going forward, we want to commemorate our anniversary with the TLR International Luxury Conference. When we started The Luxury Reporter five years ago, it was part of our business plan to commemorate our 5th anniversary with a conversation around the Global luxury sector. We believe clocking five years in business is a sign of maturity; a sign that the venture has come to stay. You will agree with me that five years in business means one has a story to tell. It is for this reason we are announcing today the TLR International Luxury Conference, which will be an annual conversation around happenings in the global luxury industry to commemorate our anniversary.
TLR International Luxury Conference will attracts senior luxury sector executives, corporate decision-makers and financiers from around Africa and the world including Chairmen, CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, Presidents and Managing Directors from the following industries: Fashion, Luxury Retail, Jewelry, Automobile, Yacht, Watches, Private Equity, Investment Banking, Private Banking, Investment / Asset Management, Architecture / Construction, Luxury Hotels, Luxury Residential Property, Auctioneering, Arts, Credit Card Companies, Film, Shopping Mall, Advertising / Marketing, Design Consultancies and more.
Players in the luxury market seem to have embraced your brand, how does that make you feel?
Yes, we are happy that players in the sector have accepted The Luxury Reporter Magazine as their own; they have been impressed by our consistency, originality of content and the quality of stories we do. They also like the fact that we understand the importance of passing out the right message about their brands and how best to communicate it.