Feb. 21 - German fashion house Hugo Boss has opened its first shop in Nigeria, and hopes the store commercial capital, Lagos, will attract wealthy buyers who are already familiar with the brand. Analysts say high-end firms are beginning to see great potential in the African market. Hayley Platt reports.
Hugo Boss is already a household name in much of the western world. Now it's aiming to grow further in Africa. The German fashion house chose Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, for its first store in Africa's most populous nation. The store's manager says the brand always has a following there. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HUGO BOSS STORE MANAGER, MOHAMMAD AYYOUB, SAYING: "We didn't do any advertising, we didn't do anything outside, we just opened the shop and start business, so the people here they are like wow, Boss is here, so they are hungry for brands." But they're not cheap. An average suit here costs 1000 U.S. dollars, around 28 times the average Nigerian salary. The majority of shoppers in Nigeria won't be able to afford brand Boss, but the oil rich elite will. Market analyst Bismarck Rewane says luxury brands are increasingly looking to the continent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BISMARCK REWANE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FINANCIAL DERIVATIVES COMPANY SAYING: "I will say that 90 percent of the elite in Nigeria buy their consumables or their luxury brands outside of Nigeria. The transition from being destination shoppers to being origin shoppers is just going to start." Hugo Boss is already looking at opening in other major cities. Other luxury brands have already seen success in Nigeria. Porsche recently opened a showroom in Lagos. And LVMH has a significant foothold in Africa. But it's still very much an untapped market. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BISMARCK REWANE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FINANCIAL DERIVATIVES COMPANY SAYING: "It's a good sign that we are starting but we are way way behind the rest of the emerging markets in terms of positioning ourselves as a luxury goods market in the world." That's unlikely to be the case for long. European brands are seeing a slowdown in their home market, as economies in sub-Saharan Africa begin to grow, and they want to grab a piece of the pie.