Commercial Real Estate

From the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog: Top African Nations for Retail Development

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Michael Chu’di Ejekam is known for his work in the retail development sector throughout all of Africa. He has had a hand in numerous projects, often with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and his motherland of Nigeria. AT Kearney recently published its African Retail Development Index and rated countries based on various aspects, such as market attractiveness, country risk, market saturation, and time pressure, to determine which ones were the most desirable for retail development. Which ones came out on top? You’ll find the answers below, in this Michael Chu’di Ejekam blog.

1. Gabon

The prior report listed Gabon as number five, but the recent increase in growth helped it earn the top spot this time around. According to the report, Gabon has the most stable middle-class, and one of the highest per-capita income levels of any Sub-Saharan nation, which sits at around $21,000. Moreover, newcomers to the market don’t face serious struggles due to heavy competition because it’s just now beginning to blossom.

2. Botswana

For similar reasons, Botswana climbed from number eight to number two on the list this year. The country has a very diverse economy, drawing revenue from mining, agriculture, and tourism. It’s a natural place for retailers to head to, and many of the big players in retail have become well-established already. Choppies, for example, has more than 70 locations there. This makes it more difficult for a newcomer to get established, though companies with a unique proposition or product still do well and the market continues to grow.

3. Angola

GDP growth makes Angola a very attractive place to do business. In these terms, it’s one of the fastest growing areas, with a 7% annual increase. However, it is still small (approximately 1/8 the size of Nigeria) and the middle-class population is nearly non-existent. Businesses that do well in Angola recognize this, and tend to cater to only the affluent Angolans or the very budget-conscious consumers.

4. Nigeria

Despite economic struggles, Nigeria remains a powerhouse for retail development. The population is massive, plus the middle-class is large and growing. Many citizens still favor local shops and small outlets, but the increase in urbanization is changing this as well. Numerous malls have been constructed and big companies like Shoprite have put down roots. Companies that do very well right now are catering to the loyalty of Nigerians, and are using locally-sourced goods whenever possible.

These four countries beat out all others, including South Africa, in terms of desirability for retail development. As time passes, we’re sure to see great things emerge from these markets, and positive results from those who enter them with a sound business plan.

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From the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog: Emerging Commercial Real Estate Trends

Michael Chu'di Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam, Michael Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam Commercial Real Estate

Michael Chu’di Ejekam has been active in the commercial real estate market both in Africa and in the United States. With a core focus on selecting strong real estate investments, he’s had a hand in the creation of millions of dollars in retail space. Naturally, the real estate market in Africa is different than that of the United States, and the rest of the world for that matter, but we are seeing some global trends in how entrepreneurs are making the most of their space and paving the path to success. While the deals that Michael Chu’di Ejekam helps bring to fruition are a catalyst, it’s the strategies we’re seeing implemented now that are helping businesses reach new heights in our increasingly connected world.

Shared Space

Although we’re all familiar with the model of having an anchor store or two paired with other smaller venues, one of the newest trends puts multiple retailers under a single roof in a shared space. It’s akin to a traditional market, yet in a formal retail setting. Google is one of the best-known brands to do this. The company launched an immersive shop inside Currys PC World, a London department store. The goal of the Google store was to give consumers a chance to try out Google products and truly experience them before they made a purchase. The company says they plan to open more using the same model.

Pop-Up Shops

Short-term spaces are nothing new, either, but we’re seeing more of them in the formal setting as well. While traditionally reserved for holiday or seasonal goods, and perhaps even a roadside stand could be considered the same, today’s pop-up shop is highly organized. The trend may have begun as landlords who could not fill long-term spaces agreed to short-term leases, but the concept has blossomed into certain venues only offering up retail space for short periods of time. There are now even companies that specialize in connecting landlords with tenants in a peer-to-peer marketplace. While still used for seasonal goods, pop-up shops have also become an attractive option for businesses that want to improve branding efforts or increase awareness of their normally online enterprise.

Commingling Real World and Online Experiences

Many of the big-name brands, like Target and Amazon, have started creating hybrid stores. These shops have a limited amount of merchandise, giving consumers the opportunity to hold and experience a product before they buy it. This is immensely important in the tech industry, and this is where Amazon shines. Their stores are primarily billed as bookstores, but they have Kindles and other devices, as well as classes on how to use them, so consumers feel more comfortable and familiar with their products. When shoppers don’t find the book they’re looking for in the store, seamless ordering is just a click or a tap away.

As emerging markets continue to grow, these trends throughout the world will likely come into play. Retail has come a long way, and these strategies will help usher them into entrepreneurial success.

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From the Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog: 3 Simple Ways to Go Green

Michael Chu'di Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam, Michael Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam Commercial Real Estate

Michael Chudi Ejekam was part of the team that brought Heritage Place to fruition. As Nigeria’s first green certified commercial building, it has paved the way for other buildings and raised the standards for commercial development. The building, itself, is sleek and modern, very much befitting of the busy commercial district it serves in Lagos and most people wouldn’t realize how much thought went into incorporating green features from the start. This Michael Chudi Ejekam blog will cover three of the ways Heritage Place went green, along with some insights as to why these changes are necessary for all structures going forward.

1. Recycled Water

There are two main kinds of recycled water; graywater and brown/blackwater. The latter tends to refer to water from toilets and other dirty sources, while graywater has less impurities and comes from things like washing hands. One may also think of harvested rainwater as recycling, simply because it can be gathered from areas that don’t need it and used in areas that do. Systems that recycle rainwater and graywater are becoming commonplace in commercial structures, built in from the start. The water is cleaned and then used for things like irrigation and toilets. The obvious benefit to this is that less drinkable water is needed for a building, and consumption can drop in the neighborhood of 20-30%.

2. Building Orientation

One of the easiest things for builders to take into account is the orientation of the building. This is a passive way to provide energy efficiency and keep people inside the building more comfortable. Simply by choosing the ideal shape of the building and angling it properly, the building can naturally minimize solar exposure. Heritage Place is set up this way, which reduces the load on cooling units throughout the building, so they run more efficiently and last longer, and it also keeps people inside more comfortable, with less effort. You’ll also note that the structure of Heritage Place has multiple jaunts and awnings, which helps minimize solar exposure as well.

3. High-Efficiency Lighting

Nowadays, we all know that the type of bulb used matters. The old incandescent bulbs are energy hogs and need constant replacement. Fluorescent lighting is a better option, but beyond this, LED lighting is the best available right now. The bulbs last seemingly forever and use very little energy, saving money on power, labor, and replacements. Heritage Place took this a step further and included presence detectors, so the lighting only operates when people are active and in a room.

These are three simple things that nearly any builder can do to help create a greener building, without having to spend huge amounts of money to make it happen. Moreover, they save on the costs of maintaining the building, which seriously adds up over time.

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From the Michael Ejekam Blog: New Lagos Mall Opened

Michael Chu'di Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam, Michael Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam Commercial Real Estate

Michael Ejekam has been involved in the creation of several malls, including the Ikeja City Mall and the Jabi Lake Mall, as well as the Abuja and Accra Malls. These kinds of projects are always exciting, as they show that investors have faith in the economy and they bring jobs and growth to the area. Although Michael Ejekam was not involved in the newest mall to open in Lagos, Nigeria, it’s still good news for local residents.

The Maryland Mall is Open

Onikepo Akande, President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) spoke at the inauguration celebration. “It is my sincere belief that this new mall will help to expose and grow the manufacturing and commercial potential of Lagos state and by extension, the national economy,” she said. Anchored by a Shoprite store, with many other venues for entertainment, shopping, and services, the location is expected to do quite well. Many businesses are eager to take up slots in the 7,700 square metre property, including companies like Stanbis IBTC Bank and The Place restaurant. Akande gives credit to the team behind the new development, explaining, “Indeed, retail is one of the cornerstones of trading and investment, and Purple Capital, the developers of Maryland Mall, have done extremely well to give Maryland a new lease of life through this retail investment.”

It’s a Unique Structure in a High-Volume Area

The Lagos State Ministry of Transport carried out studies of the area, highlighting traffic patterns and the best way to position things. It’s estimated that 5,000 cars will pass by every single hour, which will bring people naturally to the mall throughout the normal course of their days. Unlike most structures being built today,  the Maryland Mall is built lengthwise, rather than reaching into the air. It also boasts a few unique features, such as an underground parking lot, which is the first one in the country. Developers has also included a massive 550 square metre LED screen on the front of the building, which is the largest in all of Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s estimated that the structure cost some $25 million to construct, and took roughly three years to bring to fruition, from the early investing stage through opening day. So far, it has been well-received by local residents, who have largely been treating visits as a family outing and appreciating the nice cool air conditioning.

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From the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog: 7 Nigerian Retail Industry Facts

Michael Chu'di Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam, Michael Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam Commercial Real Estate

Michael Chu’di Ejekam is an expert in Nigerian retail, investing, and commercial real estate. Presently, the growth of the retail revolution has slowed some, but it is still a very strong sector that is absolutely primed to take the country to the next level in the coming years. The Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog has gathered seven interesting facts about the market that sets Nigeria apart from the rest of the world. Take a look; you’re bound to see some new information.

Facts About How Nigerians Shop

  1. Nigeria is poised for growth where supermarkets are concerned. In Kenya, around 30% of the population has shifted to formal retail supermarkets and around 60% of South Africans have as well. In Nigeria, just 2% of the population makes use of supermarkets, which likely has more to do with limited options and accessibility than anything else.
  2. Nigerians with Internet access like the convenience of shopping online. In a study performed by PayPal, 90% of people used the net to shop in Nigeria, compared to 60% in Kenya and 70% in South Africa. Experts say that brick-and-mortar retailers can boost sales by commingling their options and by offering point-of-sales devices and customer-driven kiosks on-location.

Facts About Nigerian Consumers

  1. Consumers feel optimistic about their futures- more so than those in other countries. Almost three-quarters of people surveyed say their finances will be much better off in as little as two years. When consumers in other markets were asked the same question, just 66% of South Africans agreed. Only 52% of Kenyans could say the same.
  2. Consumers are both brand and budget-conscious. One of the biggest factors for consumers in the region when considering what to purchase is still the cost. A whopping 37% prioritize this over everything else. The second major factor is quality, with 31% saying they will go for a brand that they believe to be high-quality, often choosing the same option again and again because it’s trustworthy.

Facts About the Market

  1. Nigeria is ranked one of the top countries in Africa for consumer demand potential. The country trailed close behind South Africa and Mauritius, topping Morocco by one slot and Kenya by 12.
  2. The market lacks brand diversity. One of the biggest needs uncovered by research is that very few brands are available and the majority of Nigerians are willing to try new products if they’re high-quality and have a good reputation.
  3. Retail and wholesale make up a large portion of the GDP. The market presently accounts for 16.4% of the GDP and with urbanization and the population growing, is expected to continue to be a solid investment opportunity.

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From the Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog: 10 Fastest-Growing African Retailers

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Being involved in commercial real estate and retail investments, Michael Chudi Ejekam is constantly watching the market to see which companies are performing well. While knowing which ones are profitable and are at the top help in knowing where to invest, watching companies as they climb the ladder is essential. This can give you keen insights into which strategies work, as well as what products consumers are demanding. The Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog has gathered information on ten of the fastest-growing companies in Africa’s retail sector, with statistics from Deloitte.

1. Choppies Enterprises Ltd

Headquartered in Botswana, Choppies is the fastest-growing retail company in Africa and also ranks 12 in terms of sales. Their sales jumped up 24.4% during the reporting period.

2. Zambeef Products Plc

Aptly named, Zambeef hails from Zambia and fell just behind Choppies in terms of growth during the same reporting period. An increase of 23% in sales brought the company to 20 on the total revenue list.

3. Mr. Price Group Ltd

The South African clothing and accessories retailer, Mr. Price, gained 15% in sales over the course of the year. This landed them in seventh place in terms of sales.

4. The Foschini Group Ltd

Another South African purveyor of apparel, The Foschini Group, took fourth on the fastest-growing list, with revenue climbing 13.3%, but topped Mr. Price in terms of revenue by one slot.

5. Woolworths

Internationally-known Woolworths took fifth place in both growth and total sales. The clothing company is headquartered in South Africa and grew by 12.7% during the reporting period.

6. Société Magasin Général SA

The only Tunisian company to make the list was Société Magasin Général SA, a general merchandise venue, showing steady gains of 11.3% and earning the 16th slot in terms of sales.

7. The SPAR Group Ltd

Though the SPAR Group of South Africa holds the fourth spot in terms of total sales, it only came in seventh place for growth. However, a comfortable 10.7% increase for such a large company is commendable.

8. Shoprite Holdings Ltd.

Another large South African company, Shoprite, came in eighth place for growth, showing a 10.5% increase. However, it beat out all other companies for sales.

9. Massmart Holdings Ltd

Massmart, headquartered in South Africa, fell just behind Shoprite on both lists; coming in number nine for growth at 9.8% and taking the second spot for sales.

10. Furnmart Ltd

The only home furnishings retailer to make the top ten is Frunmart, with 8.9% growth. The South African company comes in 23rd for overall sales.

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From the Michael Ejekam Blog: Large Supermarkets Center on Africa

Michael Chu'di Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam, Michael Ejekam, Michael Chudi Ejekam Commercial Real Estate

As a thought leader in Nigeria’s retail revolution, Michael Ejekam watches the sector with a keen eye. As of late, many supermarket giants have turned their attention to Africa, hoping to become established and take advantage of the blossoming market. Out of the top 100 markets, Africa and the Middle East accounted for just 12% back in 2012, but by 2013, the number jumped to 15%, and by 2015, the regions were home to 16.2%. In this article, the Michael Ejekam Blog will examine several huge supermarket chains that have decided to center on Africa for growth, and explain why they’ve decided to do it.

Wal-Mart aka Massmart

At a recent summit in Cape Town, Wal-Mart CEO, Doug McMillon spoke about his overall goals for the company. “So sometimes people say Walmart is not really a growth company anymore. I want to say: Well, if we layer on $50 to $60 billion, would that count, in three years?” While Wal-Mart and its various subsidiaries are active on a global scale, McMillon says that they plan to put a broad focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. “It’s not only South Africa,” he said. “The whole region has something to offer.”

Pick n Pay

“By any metric, this is the best time to be in Africa,” explained Richard Brasher, CEO of Pick n pay, at the same consumer goods forum. “You can’t hope to control Africa or anything that happens in it, but what you can do is learn to adapt.” The company operates in Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia. Brasher said that one of the keys to success is recognizing that consumers in different countries have unique needs and preferences, and that businesses must adapt to them. The company’s present goal is to expand into Nigeria, but with a mix of both small and large shops to suit the needs of individual communities. His conviction unwavering, “We have ambitious plans for this continent, and we believe there’s a bright future,” Brasher added.

SPAR International

Self-dubbed as the “world’s largest voluntary retail chain,” SPAR has been very active in Africa for a number of years. The company opened its first Cameroon store near the end of last year and plans to continue growing its footprint in Africa in the coming years. SPAR recently ranked seventh on the list of growing retailers in Africa, after seeing more than a 10% increase over the course of a year. It also boasted the fourth-greatest sales in the region.

With the growing middle class and increasing urbanization, consumers are beginning to appreciate a more formal shopping environment. The population is also expected to double by 2050, reaching more than 2 billion people. As the market and need for more shops continues to boom throughout Africa, it will undoubtedly prove a wise a fruitful decision for these retailers to lay down roots now.

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Michael Chudi Ejekam Shares Insights on $1Billion Longer-Life Private Equity

Michael Chudi Ejekam, commercial real estate expert shares his insights on the recent Wall Street Journal article on the Atlas Partners Longer-Life Private Equity Fund which raised one billion dollars.

New York, NY, United States – May 26, 2016 /MarketersMedia/ —

Michael Chudi Ejekam, an expert private equity investor, provides insight on the emergence of longer-life private equity funds such as Altas.

In a recent article printed in the Wall Street Journal by Chris Cummings, it was reported that the emergence of longer-life private equity funds such as Altas recently hit a new benchmark by raising one billion dollars. Altas as well as other powerful groups, such as Blackstone and Carlyle, are working on similar longer-life funds. Longer-life PE funds allow managers to hold each investment for far longer than the typical 5-year hold period per investment and typical 10-year total fund life. In the Altas case, each investment can be held up to a whopping 17 years.

The typical “medium life” PE model has proven to be highly successful with attractive risk-adjusted returns, however, Michael Chudi Ejekam believes the model can be optimized, particularly in emerging market like Africa. “Following my several years of PE investing in sub-Saharan Africa, I am convinced that longer term life funds would be an improvement on the PE model for emerging markets such as Nigeria” Michael Chudi Ejekam explains.

“When a PE fund is compelled to exit after a 5-year hold period, though the returns may achieve certainly attractive 25+% gross IRR or 2.5 to 3 times multiple on equity invested, I believe tremendous additional value may be left on the table.” The expert demonstrated his point by saying, “Originating, executing and investment managing attractive investments is a challenging process – why be forced to sell/exit a highly attractive investment after only 5 years, only to be saddled with pressure to find another outstanding deal to originate to start the process over again?”

Of course, some other models have emerged to address the standard PE model challenges. For example, in the case when an arm of a PE fund family invests in greenfield deals seeking “opportunistic” higher returns, and the completed projects are transferred to “core” vehicles of the same fund family which are seeking lower, more stable, longer term returns. “It could be more powerful and efficient to have one fund vehicle simply hold the investment for the longer term”, said Michael Chudi Ejekam. This is especially important in emerging markets, where the deal process is more challenging and deals could take years to originate and close in the first place. There is also increasing investor interest and PE capital raised for Africa for example, therefore deals have become more competitive and could take years to originate and close. “After so much heavy lifting, why sell after only 5 years?” he asked. “I have been involved in a few highly successful full-cycle investments and exits – though the returns were highly rewarding and the possible carried interest/profit distributions exiting, the reality is that excessive additional upside was surrendered to the new owners.”

Charlie Munger, one of Warren Buffet’s longest serving colleagues is quoted as saying: “The ‘know-nothing’ investor should practice diversification, but it is crazy if you are an expert. The goal of investment is to find situations where it is safe not to diversify. If you only put 20% into the opportunity of a lifetime, you are not being rational.”

“Why sell after only 5 years if you are already enmeshed within a great investment?” Michael Chudi Ejekam continued. “Part of the answer lies in the reality that PE funds need to demonstrate exits/returns to potential Limited Partners (LPs) in order to raise fresh investment funds, and LPs are accustomed to the well-defined and tested cookie-cutter PE “medium life” model.” Of course, there is a desire to exit to realize profits so that carried interest distributions can be made – the perfectly reasonable lifeblood of private equity, from which Ejekam has benefited. Thankfully, there are other acceptable avenues to achieve this objective. According to the finance whiz, longer-life PE funds would be an improvement for for emerging markets such as Africa. He thinks it would be helpful if more potential LPs bought into the concept and support the investment strategies of managers with longer-term views.

Mr. Ejekam offered a few closing remarks. “The most successful entrepreneurs and investors in emerging markets such as Africa, hold longer term views. They do not think in 5-year chunks. They think in terms of decades. This is how to generate outsized returns.”

About Michael Chudi Ejekam

Michael Chudi Ejekam is an honors graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a BSc in Economics, with a concentration in Finance. His early days were spent on Wall Street, as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch, after which he moved into private real estate investments in New York, and then onto work with Nigeria’s Actis. During his seven-year tenure as their Director Real Estate for West Africa, he became known as a leader in the “retail revolution,” helping to bring multiple million-dollar malls into underserved areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

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