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An Inspiring Conversation on the Future Of Luxury

Spotlight on the Business of Luxury in Nigeria

London |
Speakers include:
James  Benoit

James Benoit


Reni  Folawiyo

Reni Folawiyo


Brigitte Stepputtis

Brigitte Stepputtis

Vivienne Westwood


An Inspiring Conversation on the Future of Luxury will shine a spotlight on the state of Nigeria’s dynamic luxury sector with insights from global brands, retailers and pioneering visionaries on overcoming the barriers to entry, ethical luxury practices and building transparent, sustainable and value-driven business partnerships.

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Full overview

The most populous country and arguably the largest economy on the continent, Nigeria is widely regarded as an African powerhouse. Rich heritage, a rising consumer class and the growing youth population are all working in the country’s favour to birth a modern luxury economy.

Nigeria’s luxury sector has experienced consistent growth in recent years with an increasing number of international brands across automotive, fashion and hospitality making expansion in the country a priority. While there is still much work to be done to address the immediate challenges of building and sustaining a luxury brand in the Nigerian market, companies that do break the mould, with fresh thinking and an innovative approach to doing business in the country, will turn challenges into opportunities.

To succeed in Nigeria, businesses need to adopt a collaborative strategy, an understanding of local market dynamics, and a true assessment of the prerequisites for success in the market. There is therefore a first-mover advantage for companies who can successfully forge the right alliances and strategic partnerships. These companies will mitigate the risks and capitalise on the opportunities in Nigeria.

Who are the current players in the market? What exactly are the challenges versus opportunities, and what is the mid to long-term economic outlook for Nigeria? As brands search for new ways to prove their commitment to sustainability, what solutions to ethical luxury can Nigeria provide to the industry? How can foreign investment contribute to the development of the country and local communities? How can brands engage the growing Nigerian population in the diaspora?

An Inspiring Conversation on the Future of Luxury will shine a spotlight on the state of Nigeria’s dynamic luxury sector with insights from global brands, retailers and pioneering visionaries on overcoming the barriers to entry, ethical luxury practices and building transparent, sustainable and value-driven business partnerships.


Agenda - 15th Oct

  • 6:00pm
    Welcome Drinks
  • 6:30pm
    Opening Remarks

    David Pilling, Africa Editor, Financial Times

  • 6:35pm
    Keynote: Rewriting Africa's Single Story

    James Benoit, CEO & Executive Director, FCMB Bank UK

  • 6:50pm
    Panel Discussion: Spotlight on the Business of Luxury in Nigeria
    • Exploring the future role of luxury in the economic growth and development of Nigeria 
    • An investor’s perspective on adapting to the complex climate – How innovations across technology and infrastructure are impacting the business environment 
    • Growth outside of the box: Collaboration as a driver to thriving luxury partnerships (inter-industry and cross-industry)
    • What are brands doing to improve their sustainability and social responsibility?

    Mo Abudu, Media Entrepreneur and CEO, EbonyLife Media

    Bola Atta, Group Director, Corporate Communications, UBA (United Bank for Africa) 

    Reni Folawiyo, Chief Executive & Founder, Alara

    Brigitte Stepputtis, Global Head of Couture, Vivienne Westwood

  • 7:55pm
    Chair's Closing Remarks

    David Pilling, Africa Editor, Financial Times

    FT Content to finish

  • 8:00pm
    Networking Drinks Reception
  • 8:30pm
    Presentations from the Supporting Partners of The Luxury Network Nigeria

Speakers (6)

James  Benoit

James Benoit

Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director

James Benoit, CFA, is an international banker and investor for 27 years in North America, Asia Pacific, Africa, Middle East & Europe. He led and developed businesses for multinational bank HSBC for 18 years including credit cards, consumer banking and private and corporate banking. 

From 2007 to 2015, he founded and led the award winning corporate and private bank AfrAsia Bank Ltd. He currently leads FCMB Bank (UK) Limited in London which is a subsidiary of the 7th largest bank in Nigeria. In both roles, he has worked across Africa and India to grow and develop client businesses with multicultural, highly skilled colleagues.

He has served as CFA Mauritius Society President and has chaired numerous CFA Institute advisory panels globally. He is a past Chairman of YPO Mauritius. Has also chaired the Mauritius Institute of Directors, and currently serves as advisory panel member of the National Committee on Corporate Governance under the Minister of Financial Services, Mauritius.

He obtained his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, Canada in 1988 and his CFA Charter in 1996.

Reni  Folawiyo

Reni Folawiyo

Founder and CEO

Reni Folawiyo is the Founder and CEO of Alara, a contemporary African design concept in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.

Born in London to academic parents, Reni’s early education was in Nigeria before moving to further her education at the University of Warwick, England, where she graduated as a lawyer in 1986. After being called to the Nigerian bar in 1987, she practiced commercial Law for 10 years before pursuing her passion for creative expression.

Prior to founding Alara, Reni had expressed her bias for art fashion and lifestyle by starting a collective of creatives. Bringing makers, artists and fashion designers together, she started a studio which went on to expand into a wood working and leather working company that produced both artisanal and commercial products. RFH Ltd is a leader in the interior design industry, known for its unique products from collaborations with artisans and excellent finishing.

Reni founded Alara in February 2015, a culmination of Reni’s personal journey, Alara, the Yoruba word for "a wondrous performer" and "one who thrills endlessly" is a lifestyle project that is dedicated to contemporary art, fashion, design, cuisine and culture. Home to some of the world’s leading luxury brands, Alara is a luxury destination from an African perspective located in Victoria Island and was designed by David Adjaye, a world-renowned Architect. In the same year, Nok by Alara was launched, a contemporary African restaurant which specializes in reconstructed versions of classic African dishes.

Reni is widely travelled, with specific interest in Art, culture and Lifestyle she is fulfilling her life’s dream to redefine African Luxury to Africans and to the rest of the world.

Brigitte Stepputtis

Brigitte Stepputtis

Global Head of Couture
Vivienne Westwood

Brigitte Stepputtis is the Global Head of Couture at Vivienne Westwood with over twenty-five years of experience in the fashion industry.

She joined the label in 1990 and has since contributed to the success and growth of the brand, including leadership roles in fabric acquisition and production, and implemented the launch of the exclusive couture and bridal service in 1995 at the Davies Street Boutique in Mayfair.

She has overseen worldwide Couture presentations, exhibitions, advertising shoots and fashion shows, promoting the luxury and couture of the brand.

As Head of Couture she is dressing many of the world’s leading celebrities and stars from the classical music world and has designed gowns for a coveted selection of the world’s most recognized and diverse women including royal figures.

She is implementing Green Carpet projects and initiating, supporting and coordinating various commitments of the brand's sustainability strategy.

Brigitte Stepputtis is a Director at the Ethical Fashion Forum and has an advisory role at CO – Common Objective, an online platform for sustainability in fashion. She is a member of the Medinge Group, a think tank of brand experts and co-author of 'Brands with a Conscience' published by Cogan Page in 2016 and has lectured widely on sustainability in fashion.

Since the beginning of 2019 Brigitte Stepputtis is on the advisory board of DeFINE

-Developing a Fashion-Tech Innovation Network for Europe.

Mo Abudu

Mo Abudu

Media Entrepreneur and CEO
EbonyLife Media

Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Media has made her mark through various endeavors in the corporate world. She entered the world of media as the creator, executive producer, and host of the TV show “Moments with Mo,” earning the accolade of Africa’s ‘first lady of chat’.

One of the most prolific producers in Africa, Abudu launched Nigerian broadcaster and producer EbonyLife TV in 2013, producing over 1000 hours of original programming each year. The channel broadcasts in Africa on the DStv and StarTimes networks, and across the Caribbean on the Flow network.

Abudu is highly sought after for her knowledge of the African and global creative industry. She has spoken at the Wharton School of Business, Cambridge University Judge School of Business and Harvard University, and has received many international recognitions. Forbes has described Abudu as “Africa's Most Successful Woman,” while CNN announced her as “Africa’s Queen of Media who conquered the continent.”

Abudu was listed in Hollywood Reporter's 25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television in 2013 and 2017. In 2018, the University of Westminster awarded Mo an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts, in recognition of her outstanding services to broadcasting and enterprise in Nigeria.

Bola Atta

Bola Atta

Group Director, Corporate Communications
United Bank for Africa

Bola Atta is the Group Director for Corporate communications for UBA (the United Bank for Africa). She is also the Executive Producer of REDTV.

As a graduate of Economics with an M.B.A majoring in Marketing, she has almost 30 years of experience in diverse fields ranging from Banking, Business, Communications, Publishing, Entertainment and the Media. She has worked with government agencies both in Nigeria and South Africa using her expertise in public relations and increasing her wide network within Africa. She made a mark in the Media industry on the African continent as one of the most sought after editors in West Africa. She was featured on CNN’s Market Place Africa in March 2010 in a segment on African Fashion. She was Executive Producer for Africa’s Next Top Model.

Bola Atta was nominated as the Best Marketing professional in West Africa in 2017. She was also on the list of the 40 top Nigerians under 40 in 2008 and celebrated as one of the 100 most influential women in Nigeria in March 2015.

In 2001, Atta proposed to the Board of M-Net (Electronic Media Network), that a channel be dedicated solely to the broadcast of African movies - specifically Nollywood movies. She worked on the concept, development and programming of this channel which she successfully launched in 2003. Today, The Africa Magic channel is the most watched channel on the African continent. Atta moved on in the Naspers group to become the editor of True Love West Africa magazine. In 2005, Bola became the first Nigerian director of one of the largest publishing conglomerates in Africa. She was appointed to the board of Media24 Nigeria, an affiliate of Media24.

She founded the Life Stream Charity in order to assist under- privileged children with heart problems. Over 100 children were sent to Israel from Nigeria for corrective heart surgery by the Life Stream Charity between 1997 and 2003. Atta is currently the CEO of UBA Foundation which focuses on Education, Economic Empowerment and the Environment, bettering the lives of people across the African continent.

Jennifer  Obayuwana

Jennifer Obayuwana

Executive Director
Polo Luxury Group

Polo Limited, Polo Towers, 166 Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Victoria Island, 101241, Lagos

A gemologist, watch specialist and collector of objet d’arts, Jennifer Obayuwana serves as the Executive Director of the Polo Luxury Group in Nigeria, a Family Entreprise.

The group, the first luxury company in Nigeria, established in 1987 by her visionary father, John Obayuwana, has since been the reference point of the luxury retail in the country. Polo is the official maison of high-end Swiss watchmaking and fine jewellery brands with a portfolio that includes Rolex, Cartier, Breguet, Chopard, Piaget, Omega, Longines, Messika among others.

With Jennifer at the helm, the group has expanded to include a subsidiary Polo Avenue, the foremost fashion destination in Nigeria with a brand portfolio including Gucci, Valentino, Bottega Veneta, Berluti and Alexander McQueen.

Jennifer is an alumni of The American University of Paris and Franklin University, Switzerland and has taken several management courses at prestigious institutions such as INSEAD, Columbia Business School, Lagos Business School, The Wharton School of Business, Cranfield School of Management and the Gemological Institute of America.

From working on the shop floor as a sales associate 15 years ago, Jennifer has emerged as a force in her own right rising to the positoin of Executive Director.

Credited with overseeing one of the group’s most critical periods during her impressive tenure, as the Executive Director, Jennifer is responsible for the profitability, strategic leadership and daily operations of the company managing several units and divisions.

Jennifer also serves as a director on the board of the Cat Construction group.

She is the chairperson of Women Who Conquer, a non profit female empowerment project which aims to improve the lives of rural women all around Nigeria from socio-economic to skills acquisition Jennifer is committed to enforcing compelling and sustainable change from a grassroots.


Chair and Co-host (2)

David Pilling

David Pilling

Africa Editor
Financial Times

David Pilling is the Africa Editor of the FT. Previously he was the Asia Editor (2008-16), Tokyo Bureau Chief (2002-08), Pharmaceuticals Correspondent (1999-2001), Deputy Features Editor (1997-99) and Chile/Argentina Correspondent (1993-97). He is the author of Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival (Penguin, 2014) and The Growth Delusion (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Cas Ojo

Cas Ojo

Managing Director
The Luxury Network Nigeria

Cas Ojo is the managing director of The Luxury Network Nigeria, one of 36 global offices of The Luxury Network International; the world’s most exclusive private Business Club, operating across Europe, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and America, and boasting a membership of some of the world's finest luxury brands including Cartier, Lamborghini, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, B&O, Barclays Wealth, and more.

She is a trailblazer in pioneering exclusive collaborations in the luxury industry, across the consumer goods, hospitality and financial sectors, with brands such as Porsche, Harrods, Visa Infinite, Roja Parfums, Moet Hennessy and a number of luxury hotels across Nigeria. Her in-depth knowledge, passion and varied experience of the luxury market, combined with an innate high level of creativity and strong entrepreneurial skills, have honed her expertise in the field of luxury affinity marketing.

With over ten years of entrepreneurial experience, she is also the founder of a luxury shopping concierge company, based in London, England, providing bespoke services to private clients in Nigeria, with United Bank for Africa and Fidelity Bank. Prior to this, she worked in Accounting and Finance with a number of high-profile companies across Central London, including Hotel Cafe Royal and Harvey Nichols.


The Connaught
Carlos Place
London W1K 2AL

United Kingdom


Presented by (2)

The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading business news organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. The FT has a record paying readership of one million, three-quarters of which are digital subscriptions. It is part of Nikkei Inc., which provides a broad range of information, news and services for the global business community.

The Luxury Network is the leading affinity marketing group for luxury brands and high-end service providers, with 36
offices across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, America and Asia.

We have worked with the most prestigious brands such as Bulgari, Rolls Royce, Bang & Olufsen, Ferrari, Porsche, Ralph
Lauren, Sunseeker Yachts, Bombardier Jets, Lamborghini, Cartier, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Tiffany & Co., Land Rover, Barclays Wealth, Kempinski Hotels and many more.

Our core objective is to find synergies and to identify cross-sector business development opportunities between luxury
brands, with the view to promoting and supporting strategic alliances, mutual collaboration, and increased access to high
net worth private clients.

There can be no conversation about Africa without Nigeria - the continent’s biggest economy. At least one in every four
African, is a Nigerian. The Luxury Network Nigeria is therefore delighted to begin a new conversation about Luxury In
Nigeria (LuxIN) with the FT on a global stage. We aim to redefine, and raise the profile and perception of Nigeria within the luxury industry, by providing a platform for discussion, strategic partnerships and collaborative business models, tailored to a new narrative about Nigeria.

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