Chinese Retailer makes a great leap into Africa

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Variety store chain Miniso, which sells inexpensive homewares and novelty items, is rapidly expanding its presence in African malls. It currently has stores in Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania and big expansion plans.

In Nigeria, country manager Key Yang claims that the brand wants to have around 200 franchise stores by 2020. Meanwhile, Miniso entered the Kenyan market in early 2018 and currently has two stores in Nairobi malls, with plans to open more than 100 in total.

These store numbers are astronomical in the context of frontier markets likely Nigeria and Kenya and unlikely to come anywhere close to realisation in the timescale envisaged, but they do underline Miniso’s ambition.

Established as recently as 2013, Miniso lists joint headquarters in the Chinese city of Guangzhou and Tokyo. It has grown exponentially, with stores in more than 50 countries (including, infamously, one in North Korea) and annual sales that approached USD2 billion in 2017. Miniso is often compared to Japanese retail brands Muji and Daiso. In fact, some critics assert that it is actually a knock-off of the latter and is nothing more than a Chinese brand masquerading as Japanese. In African markets, its products are typically priced between USD1.50 and USD30.

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