A growth in Kenya’s niche market amid rise in incomes and increasing expat community has lured many global shops in the East African State. While the most conspicuous entrants into the East African nation are supermarkets, top consumer brands in clothes, transport, food, banks and electronics have entered the market in the recent months.
The brands from different countries are seemingly scrambling to enter Kenya as consumers both in high-end and middle-income and the foreigners accept them. Kenya is home to various international organizations that include the United Nations Environment Programme and foreign embassies. These organizations have seen the expat community grow in Kenya providing ready market for the top brands.
Some of the top brands that have entered Kenya include German engineering and electronics firm, Bosch, which launched its first store in Central and East Africa in Nairobi recently.
Subway, a fast-food outlet, similarly, announced last week plans to open four more branches in Nairobi. For clothes shop, Kenyans have an array to choose from, which include LC Waikiki, a Turkish clothing line, The Foschini Group of South Africa, UK’s F&F and Austria’s and India’s jewellery shops Swarovski and Anmol. For cars, the luxury brands that have set shop in Kenya include Porsche, BMW and Bentley, among top brands in various industries.
At a top mall in Nairobi, one can shop at a French supermarket, eat at a Chinese restaurant and buy clothes at an American or UK shop. The scene is replicated in various high-end malls across the capital Nairobi, with the foreign brands taking sizeable space in the facilities. Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, attributed the entrance of top brands in Kenya mainly to growing economy and Kenya’s position in the region.
“The top brands are finding Kenya alluring because it is the region’s biggest economy. Once they establish in Kenya, they can easily enter any other country,” he said. He further noted that the Kenyan retail market is fast-growing thanks to rising incomes, thus opportunities are still huge in the country. “If you look at the food sector, the industry dominated by local shops, a majority with one or two branches. This offers chance for bigger foreign brands to come in,” he said, adding the global shops indicate that Nairobi is an attractive regional hub for investment.
Cytonn, a Nairobi-based investment firm, noted that various international retailers have penetrated the Kenyan market in the last six years.
The firm attributed the move to a number of factors, which include expanding middle class and vibrant real estate development; “Kenya’s private consumption expenditure has recorded the highest growth, since 2013 when it hit 8.4 percent in 2017, compared to 4.7 percent in 2016, 5.2 percent in 2015, and 4.3 percent in 2014. This is attractive to the brands,” said Cytonn.
The number of ultra-high net-worth individuals, those who are worth 50 million U.S. dollars and above in Kenya, rose by 13 percent to 90 in 2017 from 80 in 2016, according to Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2018, with the number of wealthy Kenyans expected to increase by 58 percent on average by 2022. This is one of the reasons that lead to an increase in demand for luxury brands.
The rise in the top brands has had great impact on the East African nation’s real estate sector, with developers keen on building high-quality retail spaces that conform to international standards to attract multinational firms. These firms reaffirm Kenya’s position as one of the leading regional hubs for investments in the continent.