Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Japanese retailer Miniso More is investing more than $5-million (about R67-million) in South Africa as it opens stores in the country, one of the first foreign retail brands in several years to do so.

"South Africa is an important market in Africa and plays an almost dominant role both economically and politically in Africa; how can we ignore such a critical market of Africa?" asked Paul Zhong, business development manager for Miniso South Africa.

Miniso is present in 48 countries, but has been criticised for being a Chinese retailer that markets itself as Japanese. Miniso's name is derived from "mini", after Japanese minimarts. Red was chosen as the brand's primary colour because this is considered auspicious in Asia.

Its marketing strategy has been compared to Japanese retailers such as Muji and Uniqlo, with similarities in store aesthetics, brand design and inventory.

AllianceBernstein, a global asset management company, said Miniso's market strategy was a success because it filled a price niche left unaddressed by other Japanese formats.

"We are a Japanese brand, our co-founder is Miyake Jyunya and he is Japanese," said Zhong. "What we highlight is that [our] products are totally Japanese in style, concise but creative."

Miniso has nine categories of products, ranging from consumer to health and beauty goods, jewellery and accessories, homeware, digital products, stationery and gifts.

As to why South Africa would be a viable market, Zhong said that customers everywhere wanted high-quality products, but at reasonable prices.

Miniso stores have opened at Maponya Mall in Soweto and, last weekend, in Menlyn Park Shopping Centre in Pretoria. The next stores to open will be in Forest Hill in Kyalami and Norwood Mall in Johannesburg. Store launches in Durban and Cape Town are due for September.

The group had started only in 2013 but has opened more than 2000 stores around the world within four years. Sales revenue reached $1.5-billion last year.

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