Miniso is a Japanese fashion and beauty retail chain which recently launched in South Africa. Miniso South Africa’s Managing Director, Alex Mo discusses the company’s international success, its underpinning philosophy and their decision to invest in South Africa.

Please could you take us through the company’s journey in terms of its establishment, global footprint and what attributes to its international success?

Miniso is a “Japanese Designer Brand”, which was co-founded by Mr Miyake Junya and Mr Jacky Yip in November 2013. Miniso’s sales turnover was US$1.5-billion in 2016 alone. Currently, Miniso has opened its doors in more than 50 countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany, Russia, Japan, Australia, China, Brazil, India, South Africa and more, with over 3 000 stores worldwide. Miniso’s success can be attributed to its outstanding products—“high-quality, creative design, affordable price”, all of which satisfy our customers on a global scale. Our remarkable customer support systems definitely attribute to the brand’s international success as well.

What is the company’s aim, vision and what are its core values?

By 2020, we want Miniso in 100 countries with 10 000 stores and a US$20 billion turnover, that is our aim. Our vision is to provide customers with high-quality, affordably-priced products.

In terms of our core values, we value the environment and always want to return to nature, restoring the essence of the products.

Please tell us more about the company’s philosophy of ‘fast fashion coupled with simplicity’—how does this underpin your brand and what are your various product offerings?

When Japan, Europe, the USA and major financial markets suffered an economic downturn, consumers not only required an array of exceptional goods but these products had to be offered at an affordable price point. Having strongly believed and pursued a simple life, Miyake launched a lifestyle with Miniso. He created an excellent consumer movement, where fast fashion and simplicity were expertly combined.

We provide a wealth of different products but all can be segmented into eleven categories: Health and Beauty, Seasonal Products, Boutique and Bags, Accessories, Textiles, Food and Beverages, Digital Products, Creative Homeware, Life Departments, Stationary and Gifts and of course, our Toy Series.

Miniso is one of the first foreign retail brands in several years to open stores in South Africa—where were the stores established and why was the decision taken to invest in the country? Why was South Africa identified as an important market on the African continent?

We currently have stores in Maponya Mall, Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, Norwood Mall, Golden Walk Shopping Centre and Forest Hill City, with a Cresta store opening soon. We have multiple plans in the pipeline with many more stores coming.

As an international corporate company, we develop our markets in line with our group’s strategy.

South Africa is one of the most developed countries on the African continent and we believe that it should always be amongst the first stations for international infiltration.

Since the stores were launched in August, what has the consumer response been like? What makes the company’s offering unique and appealing to the South African market?

Customers love our stores and products. They have constantly displayed their passion and support on our social media pages including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. At Miniso, we have more than 6 000 Stock Keeping Units (SKU) for our global markets. We always do sufficient and extensive market research beforehand, thus we were able to choose suitable SKU for South Africa.

In terms of strategic growth, what do you hope to achieve in the country over the next few years? Are there any plans for further expansion?

We have already opened the aforementioned five stores. We plan to open 50 stores within this year with an additional 200 stores opening next year. We will be expanding to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban very soon.

What prepared you for your current role?

Hard work is the answer.

As Managing Director of a company which has enjoyed overwhelming international success, but which is still new in this country, what are some of the challenges you foresee in your role and what do you hope to achieve?

I am far from being a success. Economic inequality and bias caused by the traditions and educational backgrounds of different people are the challenges we as a society are facing. We constantly have to do a lot of research in order to successfully build a strong team and produce an array of different products welcomed by a diverse group of people.

What are some of the most crucial leadership lessons you have learnt during the course of your career?

-Be efficient while keeping a low profile.

How do you successfully balance your personal and professional life?

The developing of Miniso is so fast that I’m involved in my work most of my time.

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