One of Nigeria’s largest online travel companies, Wakanow, announced the appointment of Mr. Adebayo Adedeji as its interim Chief Executive Officer. The appointment is with immediate effect. Before now, Adedeji was the Chief Commercial Officer of the company.
Official Statement: According to the company, Mr. Adedeji is “assuming his new responsibilities at a time of great excitement for the company which is on the cusp of transition and significant positive change. The Board of Wakanow is confident that Mr. Adedeji will provide an invaluable contribution to setting goals and objectives for the company’s future growth, whilst also providing the administrative guidance and direction required during this period of significant transition and transformation.”
End of an era: The appointment of Mr. Adedeji as interim CEO of Wakanow marks the end of an era for the company after being led by its founder Obinna Ekezie (its founder) since 2008. Ekezie invested millions of dollars in aggressive marketing scaling the company’s operations exponentially. He also introduced a large scale retail participation in the business offering huge discounts to travelers as well as credits. At some point, the company was making over $55 million in sales and was said to own about 10% of the market share. The company also explored listing on the NASDAQ as its operations grew bigger amidst financial constraints and shareholder impatience.
Scoop: Sources within the industry who prefer to be anonymous inform Nairametrics that the exit of Ekezie was rather dramatic and involved security operatives. Reports suggest he may have had a feisty relationship with Mr. Adedeji who at some point during the year left the company. His return, we understand is at the behest of the shareholders who have been frustrated with the progress of the company’s turnaround strategy under Ekezie.
Back Story: In January 2018 Nairametrics exclusively reported that Wakanow was facing a financial crisis with IATA threatening to yank Wakanow off their BSP program over unpaid settlements. However, in December 2018, the company announced it had received a $40 million investment from Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager.
About the new CEO: The company reports that Mr. Adedeji, who is the current Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of the company, has been responsible for driving the transition program of Wakanow since mid-2019. Prior to taking up his CCO role at Wakanow, he was a Senior Finance Manager at Amazon.com, in charge of fulfillment supporting product teams in 16 countries.
He was also responsible for driving topline, profitability, inventory optimization, seller promotion and improved customer experience through technical product innovation. Previously, he served as a senior finance professional in the consumer retails sector, including with Petsmart and Walmart Stores.
Wakanow has been able to grow its customer base and market share since the end of last calendar year as it continues to service its customers and maintain its best value proposition with improved product offering & customer service.