The boss of Coach and Kate Spade’s parent company expects Africa, not China, to be the focus of his children’s careers over the next 20 to 40 years.

“I tell my own children that whereas China, in my career has been the center of my focus … you only have to look at the pure demographics and the numbers in the youth and birth rates for at least my 19- and 18-year-olds to think about Africa as probably what they’re going to be focused on for the next 20 to 40 years,” said Tapestry CEO Victor Luis at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference this week.

“I hope, at least, that’s what I’ve told them,” he added.

Africa’s population is projected to grow by more than 40% to 1.7 billion between now and 2030, according to the Africa Growth Initiative at The Brookings Institution. More than 60% of Africans are less than 25-years-old, and sub-Saharan Africa’s under-25 population is forecast to grow by more than 500 million to make up a third of the global youth population by 2050, the non-profit wrote in its latest Foresight Africa report.

Annual spending by African consumers and businesses is on track to soar by two-thirds to $6.7 trillion between 2015 and 2030, according to the report. Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies last year were in Africa, and there will be nearly 90 African cities with at least one million inhabitants by 2030.

While Africa looks set to take off, China is showing signs of slowing down. Births in the Asian nation slumped to their lowest level in almost a half-century last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS). Its working-age population has fallen for seven consecutive years, according to Caixin Global, and could shrink by almost a quarter by 2050. Its economy grew 6.6% in 2018, according to the NBS, its slowest annual expansion in almost 30 years.

Mushrooming numbers of young, affluent, African urbanites could be the next generation of buyers of Coach clutches, Kate Spade backpacks and other luxury goods. However, they might hold off on splurging until their immediate needs are met. Many contend with shortages of goods and services, inadequate infrastructure, a dearth of well-paid jobs, and substantial poverty, according to the Foresight Africa report.

Still, Africa’s demographic and economic trends give it a good chance of becoming a luxury hotspot and playing an important role in Tapestry’s business, not to mention the careers of Luis’ teenagers.

“Goodness, if we ever get Africa growing, I get excited,” said Luis at the conference.


By: Theron Mohamed