Adeyanju Adelakun: We Need to Raise the Bar of Innovation, Creativity in Nigeria’s Interior Design

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His passion for innovation and creativity is unmistakable; same with his appetite for tasteful furnishings. He is a firm believer of continuous growth and re-invention. Shrewd as a businessman and spontaneous as a designer, the Chief Executive Officer of Raumplus Nigeria Limited, Mr. Adeyanju Adelakun, has an eye for details and passion for excellence and integrity. With endearing elocution, good looks and intelligence, Adelakun exudes confidence and expertise that have kept Raumplus as a leading interior design company in Nigeria. His passion for the finest aesthetics of property can be glimpsed in every area of his office. Bespectacled and blessed with an eye for detail and passion for finesse and quality and armed with years of experience with Bang & Olufsen, Adelakun’s foray into interior design business was not accidental. With Raumplus Nigeria, he owns a franchise from a global interior furnishing brand based in Germany; he is committed to promote the brand and market its innovative designs to the Nigerian market. Adeyanju speaks with Omolola Itayemi about Raumplus Nigeria’s being a household name, its loyal, expanding customer base and how he keeps company ahead of competitors

Can you tell us about yourself?
Iwas born in Mushin, Lagos State in the ’60s. I had my primary and secondary school education in Lagos. I am the fourth child in a family of seven children. My father was Emmanuel Adelakun while my mother was Ebun Adelakun. I had my elementary education at W.J Davis School and thereafter went to Ajoda Secondary School. I read Marketing at Ogun State Polytechnic, Abeokuta. I have also attended several management courses both at home and abroad.

How did you find yourself in the interior design business?
I started my career marketing Bang & Olufsen products and this made me to develop an interest in the luxury retail business. I have always had passion for finesse and quality. My years with Bang & Olufsen also prepared me for interior design business. I believe interior furnishing is key to a standard home and office design. My passion as well as my work experiences actually helped in developing a concrete interest in the business.

How will you describe home and property business in Nigeria?
Home and property business in Nigeria is a thriving one but there is a need to further raise the bar of innovation and creativity in the industry. The industry with its attendant challenges has become a major player and contribution to the nation’s economy. The home and property business has enormous potentials for growth and that is why we clamour for innovation that can accelerate growth for the industry.

Tell us briefly about Raumplus and your affiliation with the global brand?
Raumplus is a global interior furnishing brand. It is based in Germany and we have the franchise in Nigeria to promote the brand and market its innovative designs to the Nigerian audience. The brand is globally recognised for its innovative designs that appeal to the clients. Our affiliation is based on our pedigree and business model to localise the brand in the Nigerian marketplace.

What is distinct about Raumplus and its services?
Raumplus is a global brand as I said earlier; it is a brand that focuses on innovative designs to build its brand’s equity. Our brand slogan is ‘The art of fine living’. We ensure the design of beautiful and colorful interior home furnishing to the taste of our clients. Raumplus is a brand that is poised to provide top-class quality products and services to the clients. Our services are distinguished through technical know-how and our professional expertise. We place a high premium on superior value delivery for our clients.

What inspires you when you are designing for a client at Raumplus?
The major inspiration comes from the clients themselves. The needs of the client are paramount when we are designing for them. Clients want innovative and creative designs and as a result, we endeavour to design to their taste and specifications. It should also be stated that when we design for clients, we focus on top-class quality because clients should be impressed with our designs. We ensure quality and also provide superior value delivery which aligns with the brand goal.

How do you stay ahead of your competitors?
We provide strategic and qualitative service delivery. We are very mindful of the industry we operate in; the landscape is highly competitive and as a result, we re-invent the rules to remain the toast of clients. One major thing that distinguishes us is our superior value offering. What Raumplus offers is premium service delivery. This cuts across every aspect of our operations. We ensure that we provide upscale service that not only meets the needs of our clients but also align with their taste. We also engage in consistent research to identify the needs of our clients. Home and furnishing is all about lifestyle and we endeavor to gauge the perception of our clients on their taste and preferences.

Is the Raumplus brand for nouveau riche alone?
Raumplus is a brand that meets the needs of every client. Though it is a high premium brand, we offer products and services that meet the needs of our clients. A brand is positioned to meet the identified needs of its clients. We offer high value interior furnishing and the products are top-class quality. It is only people who want the value and quality that patronise our products. This set of people cuts across every segment in the society.

How do you source for material and what are the challenges you faced in this market?
Our affiliation with the Raumplus global brand enables us to source for raw materials internationally. We intimate them of the raw materials we need and we ship them into the country. We also have some materials that we source locally to complement our work. The challenges we face is not peculiar to us alone. Every company has its own challenges in its area of business. Funding is a major challenge as inadequacy of capital affects business expansion. The issue of electricity is also a major issue as we spend millions of Naira buying diesel to power our generators. This affects our profitability as well as meeting the demands of our clients.
There are myriads of challenges that a business owner faces in Nigeria; a major one is infrastructure –then you have poor road networks, among others. We expend huge cost on maintaining our design factory. There is no electricity and as a result, we spend millions of Naira buying diesel on a daily basis. The road network is also not encouraging. We transport our product across the country and the poor road network can hinder prompt delivery of the products. The cost of doing business in Nigeria is very high. The present foreign exchange situation is a case in point. We import our materials and as a result we lost huge sum of money in transacting business due to the fall of Naira. The economy faces series of challenges and these affect our industry severely. It is my belief that the situation will improve for us to remain afloat.

With your vast knowledge in the business, how will you rate the industry presently in Nigeria compared to others in the world and what government policies will ease some of the challenges faced in the industry?
The industry in Nigeria is evolving. It is equally a thriving one as there are several other players. The industry has come to stay as it contributes meaningfully to the economy. The industry offers enormous potentials and as a result, the operators need to play the game according to the rules. Government policies play essential role in the development of the manufacturing sector and all sectors of the economy. Government needs to initiate policies that will support the dreams of entrepreneurs in the country. There should be some waivers as well as concessions that should be granted to support companies in Nigeria. When government policies are friendly, there will be accelerated growth in the economy.

How has the journey been for Raumplus?
Every journey has its own hiccups. The journey has not been smooth totally due to challenges that border on infrastructure and other social amenities. The economic outlook is also a critical factor as our demand for forex has increased astronomically. The cost of doing business is also very high in Nigeria and this affects our operations. In spite of all this, we have been able to meet the desired taste of our clients.

What’s your advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs in the industry?
I would say youths of today need a lot of discipline and focus; they need to be disciplined and not live carefree lives. Focus is a major attribute and this states clearly how you remain steadfast to achieve your purpose in life. The attribute of honesty and integrity are also essential; one needs to place a high value on integrity. People should be able to vouch for one’s character. Diligence is also a very important attribute. One needs to be diligent and forthright in his area of calling. Confidence is an attribute that keeps one strong in the face of challenges. One needs strong inner confidence to face the storms of life and ultimately remain afloat. I would also like to advise youth to be goal-oriented; they should have specific objectives they want to achieve in life.

What is your typical day like?
My typical day starts with a family devotion and after that, I get set for the day’s business. Depending on my schedule for the day, I hold several meetings both in the office and with clients. I supervise ongoing installations at our various sites before getting to the office. I also have to interact with our foreign partners through the Internet. My day ends late in the night due to the nature of the industry we operate in.

How do you unwind?
I love playing lawn tennis, table tennis and video game with my children. These make me relax after the day’s hustle.

Who is your mentor?

My mentor is Mr. Benson Nwatse of Mercedes Benz Place Nigeria. He taught me all the intrigues in business. He was my former employer. I worked with him for 18 years. He taught me so many business ethics like never to borrow money for any business but to do it at your pace. He started from a car shop of Mercedes Benz to assembling of Benz brands in Nigeria. Mr. Nwatse is a go-getter. I can go on and on.

Where is your best city in the world and why?
My best city is Düsseldorf. I love the city for its cleanliness, its scenic beauty and wonderful night life.

What book are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading a book by Charles Duhig, ‘The Power of Habit’. It is a book about why we do what we do in life and business.

What is that thing that you cannot do without?
I cannot do without my phone. It keeps me connected to family, friends and business associates.

When you visit a home or an office, what design piece catches your attention first?

The first thing l look out for is the effective use of space, the furnishing and the type of electronics in use.

People say Nigerians do not appreciate interior design; do you share that belief?
Nigerians are one of the most exposed people in the world, and we appreciate beautiful things.