Is it time for Kenya to have a high-street or a shopping centre only for the super-rich?
Aziz Fazal, who owns Fazal Luxury in Nairobi’s Yaya Centre, which stocks a series of luxury brands says it is a shame that Nairobi does not have a high-street lined with exclusive stores where the rich can shop freely, get pampered and dine.
Most of the shops that sell original designer brands are scattered in the city with some lacking parking spaces, making it hard to attract super-wealthy shoppers who love privacy.
If not a high-street, Mr Fazal says, Kenya should at least have a shopping mall that houses only very high-end products.
‘‘This mall should have a helipad, a special parking space for wealthy shoppers and a high-end restaurant. It will even attract the rich from Tanzania or Uganda who fly to Dubai to shop,’’ says the man who dresses the who’s who in Kenya.
One of the challenges facing high-end stores in Kenya is security.
‘‘We have had enough with worrying about paying for security day and night. It becomes expensive to maintain a shop in some locations,’’ he says, adding that he plans to set up a luxury lounge on FCB Mihrab’s 10th floor in Kilimani, Nairobi that will be a perfect location for made-to-measure sessions.
Mike Mwai, who runs the Luxury Network that brings together sellers and buyers of high-end products from cars to furniture, says a perfect location would be where the high earners, not rich yet (Henrys) shoppers can access or the aspirational Kenyans who have fine taste.
‘‘Such malls should not necessarily have an anchor tenant as has been the case with supermarkets because the rich may not be necessarily after milk-and-bread kind of items,’’ Mr Mwai says.
But even as luxury sellers hope for an exclusive mall with the right mix of stores, in the UK the number of shoppers in high-streets has fallen following the harsh economy, shift to online shopping, rising overheads and over-concentration of shops, according to British Retail Consortium.
The future of high-streets, analysts say, lies in adding exclusive libraries, specialised dry-cleaners where bespoke suits can be washed and pressed instead of the rich having to launder their clothes abroad during business or leisure trips.