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Luxury firm eyes East Africa's ultra wealthy

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Zachary Chanou, founder and owner of UUU. Centre, a Louis XIII Remy Martin cognac; and right, a timepiece by Black Toro Perpetual. PHOTOS | COURTESY 

By Maryanne Maina

Posted  Saturday, February 11   2017 at  12:39

In Summary

  • Paris-based French luxury concierge company, UUU, looks to the Kenyan wealthy to expand its reach into the region and Africa. Founded in 2003 by Zachary Chanou, it serves clients from across all continents.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of wealthy Africans with massive spending power — who are now driving the market for luxury goods and services on the continent.

These wealthy individuals have made it possible for luxury concierge service providers like Zakary Chanou and his Paris-based company UUU to step in.

Chanou founded UUU in 2003, and currently has a global client base, with a good number of them residing in Africa.

Earlier this year, Knight Frank published its Wealth Report 2016 on the spending trends of ultra high net-worth individuals (UHNWI) globally and the data on Kenya was significant in driving Chanou’s decision to paying attention to the country’s potential.

Chanou defines his profession as people who provide the desires of the wealthy in a “tasteful, discreet and elegant manner.”

According to the Knight Frank report, luxury goods are an exception outside South Africa, but the growing numbers of wealthy individuals means a growing presence of a few luxury businesses in Kenya, Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire.

The absence of widespread trade in luxury goods can be traced to various challenges such as distribution channels, infrastructure, human resources and transportation. Many of the wealthy in the region desire services of various forms such as butlers, bodyguards, sourcing of emeralds, wealth management and family offices to art portfolio management.

UHNWIs in Africa and Latin America show a much stronger propensity for private jet ownership than the global average. Poor commercial travel infrastructure combined with global luxury spending patterns and significant travel distances between business hubs on each continent has, contributed to this high demand.

Within Africa, the number of UHNWIs with a luxury automobile is 1.55x the global average. Although wealth in Africa is extremely concentrated in certain countries, there is a growing potential for luxury brands including high-end auto marques. Despite ongoing difficult economic conditions in many emerging markets, the appetite of wealthy collectors hasn’t diminished.

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What is a luxury concierge firm and what kind of services do you offer?

This is the art of catering to the desires of the ultra high net-worth individuals in a very tasteful, discreet and elegant manner.

Some of our clients want to be picked up from and dropped off at the Charles de Gaulle airport in France or at Le Bourget, the airport that caters to private jets in France. We offer seamless luggage handling at the airport from check-in to arrivals, manage airport taxes and offer escort and chauffeured services to the premier and private jet lounge.

We get front row seat tickets during the fashion week to watch shows by Chanel, Hermes, Bottega Venetta and other exclusive brands; arrange private fittings for couture wedding dresses and hats by top couture brands from Ralph & Russo, Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Valentino.

For lifestyle, our clients require private Michelin chefs flown to their countries; wish to attend events with famous football teams; go shopping in luxury stores after shopping hours; dine in private palaces (chateaus), and get exclusive schools in Europe for their children; want to hire butlers and buy private jets. We provide the solutions to every request from our clients.

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