Global fashion brands make a beeline for Nairobi middle class shoppers

African traders buy clothes at a shop in Guangzhou, China
African traders buy clothes at a shop in Guangzhou, China. Turkish clothing line LC Waikiki, The Foschini Group, UK’s F&F and jewellery firms are set to open stores in Nairobi. PHOTO | REUTERS

International fashion brands are set to open more stores in Nairobi this year as they seek to cash in on the expanding middle class and growing taste for luxury brands.

Turkish clothing line LC Waikiki, The Foschini Group (TFG) of South Africa, UK’s F&F and jewellery firms that include Austria-based Swarovski and India’s Anmol are set to open new stores next year. LC Waikiki will open the first store in Sub-Saharan Africa in the first quarter of the year with plans to open another outlet in Karen later in the year. The clothing line, which has over 600 stores spread across 33 countries, will mark its debut at Two Rivers Mall where the firm has already injected more than Sh100 million ($1 million) investment.

“This is our first store in Sub-Saharan Africa and the biggest in the continent.  We chose Kenya as our entry point in Sub-Saharan Africa because it is a fast developing economy whose future growth looks promising. The country is also open to international retailers and brands making it a fertile ground for this type of business,” said Kremena Penchewa, area manager, LC Waikiki.

TFG is planning to open three stores at the Village Market and an additional 10 in various locations as the year unfolds. The new stores at the newly constructed extension of the Village Market will see the group introduce Foschini women’s wear shop, Markham brand targeting men and a second Sterns Jewellery store. The group, which has 22 different retail brands under its label, opened its first store in Kenya. Sterns store, located at the Junction Mall, is a contemporary and classic jewellery shop.

“The plan is to open three more stores (Foschini, Markham and Sterns) in Village Market, Nairobi, during the first quarter of 2017,” said TFG in a statement. “TFG sees Kenya as a good investment destination because the retail environment, growing middle class and infrastructure in Kenya is relatively well developed compared to other East and West African countries.”

The fashion subsidiary of UK’s largest grocery and general merchandise store Tesco, F&F, will open a second store at Sarit centre mid-January and is scouting for new viable locations in major towns across the country.

Deacons, which is the local franchise holder of the UK brand, says it plans to open five stores over five years, with the possibility of exploring other countries in the region. Tesco’s flagship clothing brand is available in more than 2,000 locations and 26 countries across the world.

“Our research indicated that Kenya is an ideal market for F&F’s expansion into Africa; Kenyans have an international outlook regarding fashion and entertainment, always in tune with what is happening in New York, London and Milan, as much as Nairobi, Lagos and Johannesburg,” Managing Director of F&F Global Partnerships, Marcus Chipchase.

“Kenyans appreciate quality and are receptive to new brands – just look at the international brands coming into the market; Kenya is growing and we are here, together with Deacons, to grow with the country.” Swarovski brand is also set to open the first store in Kenya at Two Rivers. The brand is known for its crystal glass products and accessories that are widely used by celebrities and fashion designers.

“This will be the first Swarovski outlet in East Africa dealing exclusively on latest fashion Jewellery and accessories,” said Swarovski Kenya manager, Vishal Shah.

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