As you may already know, our Hard Talk features on ONOBELLO.COM focuses on successful companies and/or individuals that have risen to the top through their visions, dedication and hard work to make a difference in their lives, the people around them and economy in general. These features are for you our readers, they are stories you can relate to in terms of the challenges you may face in the struggle to build yourself as individuals, your businesses, communities, our country and eventually the African continent.
Today we feature the luxury retail company, Polo Limited. When people hear of the name ‘Polo’ what instantly comes to mind is the game played on horses associated with the elite in any society. However, today this feature is not on the game but on the Polo luxury retail company in Nigeria.
We are hoping that you will be inspired by the Polo and the people behind the company and know that success only comes through hard work.
Polo Limited started in 1987 in Lagos, Nigeria. John O. Obayuwana, the Chairman and Managing Director of the company established his luxury retail company from scratch with very little or no capital and has built it to what we see today. By sheer hard work, integrity and determination. Polo is now the exclusive agent in Nigeria for world-class luxury brands for wrist-watches, jewellery, leather goods and other fine accessories.
Under the impetus of Obayuwana’s business vision, Polo experienced spectacular development. He is renowned for his business acumen and perfection, dedication to the retail sector and love for state-of-the-art pieces and excellence in craftsmanship, He has made Polo a leading retail company in high-end accessories in Nigeria.
Obayuwana studied in the United Kingdom where he established connections with luxury goods through his travels to Switzerland where he met and connected with manufacturers. His business has since then experienced tremendous development.
Polo is pursuing a family honored tradition as most luxury brands of the world do. Jennifer Obayuwana, the eldest child of John Obayuwanais the Executive Director at Polo. A graduate of Business Administration from the American University of Paris, France in 2004 and International Relations from Franklin College Switzerland in 2006, Jennifer joined her father in the running of the business after completing her studies and has contributed to the expansion of the business. She has a keen eye for luxury and an undeniable sense of style, this she has used to her advantage and has further affirmed her authority in the business with a degree from Gemological Institute of America (GIA). She also attended a management course at the Institut Européen d'Administration Des Affaires (INSEAD).
Polo is a fully independent business built with a set of governing principles. However, the business is strongly rooted in family as John and Jennifer Obayuwana control the day-to-day running of the business, it is clear that it will be passed on from generation to generation. The company is also built on a solid foundation of hard work and loyalty, which has kept it ahead of its competitors. Polo also draws on its wealth of strong connections with the major luxury brands of the world. Creativity is also a core part of the business and Polo believes that in its quest for excellence its employees need to think out of the box hence priority is given to supporting the personal and professional growth of its employees to enable constant improvement in retail processes and customer service and satisfaction.
Polo is aware of its corporate social responsibilities, which is the reason for John Obayuwana’s philanthropy in the Nigerian community. He was recently the invited by the Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to be the Chairman of the fund raising at the 50th Anniversary of Birch Freeman High School Surulere, Lagos. He was also a one-time member on the Board of Directors of Pipelines and Product Marketing Company Limited (PPMC) a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Polo has also sponsored a few projects targeted at impacting the Nigerian society positively. One of the company’s sponsored projects includes the Kinabuti fashion show held in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. Kinabuti – In Our Ghetto is an initiative by Italian born/Nigerian based Caterina Bortolussi. The fashion label has a cause aimed at celebrating, inspiring, empowering and harnessing the talent of young women in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and help in promoting them by providing the materials they need to develop and sustain themselves and their families.
In its 24 years of doing retail business in West Africa, Polo has achieved significant milestones. One of which is winning the exclusivity to a number of world class luxury goods – wrist watches, fine jewellery, leather products, ball pens and accessories in Nigeria from brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Rolex, Piaget, Hublot, Roger Dubuis, Chopard, Cartier, Frank Muller,Longines, Rado, Balmain, Baume & Mercier and Mont Blanc and many more.
In February this year, the company also launched the first functional Rolex approved workshop in West Africa, a major milestone in the history of luxury retailing in the region which came after Polo announced in 2010 that it had acquired the exclusive franchise and sole distributorship rights of Rolex in Nigeria, meaning that the sales and after sales service support from the Rolex brand can now be accessible directly at Polo.
Polo has expanded in Nigeria with offices and showrooms in both Lagos and Abuja.
Meet the Business Drivers
Polo recognises that to run the business it needs talented and committed people that share in its vision and can drive it so that business goals are met.
Gloria Ebata heads Operations. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria. She is also an associate member of several professional institutions in Nigeria including the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Chartered Institute of Taxation (CITN) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Managers (CIPM). An alumni member of The Lagos Business School, Ebata enjoys the day-to day running of the business and gets satisfaction from seeing her ideas implemented and translated to business growth. According to her “Polo is much more than just a company, its like family and coming to work every day with family is the best part of the job for me”.
Michael Eze as the company’s National Sales Manager manages the entire marketing in Nigeria and his number one priority is customer satisfaction. He is a qualified Pharmacist with an MBA degree in Marketing. He brings his vast experience having worked as multi-national marketing professional. He is drawn by the beautiful world of luxury hence his decision to join Polo. Eze who has been working with Polo for three years now says he enjoys his job because of his intrigue with the world of luxury and loves meeting new clients who share similar taste for the finer things in life.
Olga Sule is the Boutique Manager in Lagos. Born and bred in Minsk, Belarus, Sule is a trained Medical Lab Technologist. She has spent most part of the 12 years she has been in Nigeria working for Polo. She has the challenging role of making sure the Lagos boutique satisfies each and every one of its clientelle as well as meeting its sales target, according to her “its hard to pick one thing that makes my job enjoyable, working with Polo allows me to fulfill my passion for exclusive luxury items and meet new and interesting people. It makes me want to learn more about luxury goods and work even harder. That’s the reason why I became a luxury sales person, and I still enjoy it to this day”.
Amaka Agu is the Communications Manager. A graduate of Business & Marketing from the University of Kent with a post-graduate degree in International Business Management from the University of Surrey both in the United Kingdom. She is also an associate member of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). Agu has the challenging role of communicating and implementing Polo’s brand strategy by making sure they align with the business strategy, vision and goals of the company. She joined Polo only last year and says she loves working there because “no two days are the same, every day is like an adventure. I bore very easily and if I had a regular desk job staring at spreadsheets or pushing numbers around all day then it will be very hard to get through the day. I absolutely love the spontaneity of things and the freedom to think out of the box”.
For more information visit: www.pololuxury.com
Polo Towers, Plot 166 OzumbaMbadiwe, Victoria Island.
Tel: 234 (0) 17741012
M: +234 (0) 7059555555
The Palms Shopping mall,Lekki Road.
Tel: +234 (0)17733543
Ground Floor Transcorp Hilton Hotel, FCT.
Tel:+234 (0) 94139294