November 21 2023  |  Associations

MEADFA Day Two: Africa rising and Dubai’s luxury fashion push

By Alison Farrington in Accra, Ghana

Find updates below.

Delegates heard from Roberta Annan, a fashion entrepreneur and founder of the Africa Fashion Foundation

The second day of the MEADFA Conference began with an inspiring keynote about developing the talent opportunities within Africa’s creative community. Delegates heard from Roberta Annan, a fashion entrepreneur and founder of the Africa Fashion Foundation, which she created in 2012 to empower designers and brands in Africa.

"There will be unprecedented economic growth here in Africa, there is a promising landscape for investment and development; we have many different cultures, nine different languages. For the fashion landscape, brands are looking for sourcing and culture trends inspiration here. My goal is to empower local businesses to make the most of the talent, Ghana is a very stable market for growth,” she said.

Annan orchestrated a collaboration with Vogue Italia in 2012, which turned into a stepping stone for greater things within the fashion world. “It was a genesis of the culture and fashion wave at the time, so I established a fashion foundation as a development solution. Since then, I have invested US$3m into fashion scholarship programs, incubators for West African fashion designers, some of whom are working for international fashion brands or others who are finding opportunities for sustainable solutions to fast-fashion companies.”

9:45 a.m.: View from Dubai

On the eve of celebrating its 40th anniversary next month, Dubai Duty Free’s COO Ramesh Cidambi says the retailer is investing in its retail offer and tracking passenger spending carefully as it reaches the milestone of doing US$2bn this year.

“At Dubai Duty Free, we think that Dubai is the center of the world, but now I know the real center of the world is actually Ghana!” Cidambi opened his presentation and acknowledged the potential of this dynamic Africa region.

“This year we will cross the US$2bn mark and get to 87m passengers per year,” he said. “Over the last year, the CAGR was 12.8%, while passenger growth was 8.5%. We did better than the passenger numbers over this period. We had predicted US$75m-76m for 2023, but the growth in passenger numbers has been higher than anticipated. We started the year about 9% down as the year progressed it has got better. We did not anticipate this year we would be so close to 2019."

Cidambi said now that Dubai Duty Free is doing 80m passengers this year, the retailer is tracking spending trends very carefully. “There is a softer economic picture, lower passenger spend and penetration and we have made adjustments, especially improving the fashion offer. My comment to brands is watch the situation, there is moderation in spend and penetration, we are a few points above 2019, but we watch it closely."

Cidambi pointed out that for brands, it is worth considering Dubai as “a few mini airports.” “We try to emphasize that the business has to be looked at by individual locations, as much as the categories as an aggregate,” he said.

The fashion category has grown, but the cosmetics category has suffered (due to Chinese slower to return back).

In fashion, the product mix has changed from big luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Dior changing their merchandise mix and growing their domestic presence in places like India. “This means the luxury fashion offer at Dubai Duty Free needs to be even more compelling, providing the best opportunities for shopping at the airport,” he added.

MEADFA President Sherif Toulan closed the conference with thanks to all the attendees and sponsors. “A big thank you to everyone for being here in Accra and supporting MEADFA. Thanks to all the sponsors. Next year we will have more surprises.”

2:00 p.m.: MEADFA closes, reveals over 300 delegates attended for first Africa outing

The first MEADFA Conference in Africa welcomed a total of 313 attendees, the organizers confirmed, including 83 delegates from Africa – which the association described as an excellent number for its first outing in the continent.

“This week’s MEADFA Conference has given us plenty of reason to feel optimistic about the future of duty free and travel retail in the Middle East and Africa. As we met for the first time in West Africa, we at MEADFA were very encouraged that so many of our colleagues from the region and beyond were able to join us. It is gratifying to be able to provide the industry with such a strong platform to better understand the African market and the vast opportunities within it,” said Sherif Toulan, MEADFA President.

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