Home Estate Planning Miniso: The New York-listed Chinese retailer looking to take London high streets by storm

Miniso: The New York-listed Chinese retailer looking to take London high streets by storm

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Fast-fashion disruptor Shein has been busy taking the UK clothing market by storm, but unbeknown to many shoppers another Chinese retailer has been ramping up its presence in the UK. 

Minsio, a low cost variety store selling everything from cuddly toys to computer keyboards, opened its London flagship last August on Oxford Street, just months after it took a prime spot in Times Square, New York.

Originally inspired by Japan’s 100 Yen convenience stores, Chinese billionaire Ye Gofu made his fortune by bringing a version of the business model to his home market just over 10 years ago. 

In its relatively short tenure on the retail scene it has received backing from tech giant Tencent and listed in the New York market around four years ago, raising $680m (£538m) at the time. A few years later it took out a secondary listing in Hong Kong. 

Miniso is now a regular fixture of shopping malls and high streets around the globe with over 5,000 stores in over 80 countries. Some 2,200 of these are outside of China. 

In 2023, the convenience behemoth made revenues of RMB 11.47bn (£12bn) up 13.8 per cent year-on-year. 

A number of controversies have followed the company, facing scrutiny from Chinese customers for styling itself as a Japanese store. A decision it later apologised for and described as a “serious mistake”. 

Its store front and logo also have a likeness to casual clothing brand Uniqlo, both having red square logos. 

“A lot of the brands that come out from the Far East such as China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, they do tend to have some similar aesthetics,” Saad Usman, chief operating officer, for the company’s UK arm, told City A.M. 

“If anything, our wink logo is becoming a little bit more prominent,” he added. 

Miniso found its footing in the UK market back in 2019, launching first in Ealing; it now has 26 stores across Britain and Northern Ireland, and it is set to open at Westfield Stratford at the end of the month. 

It is not difficult to understand why customers have been drawn to the brand, a squeeze on public finances has driven Brits to seek out value at all costs. 

Usman said the average shopper spends £15 when they visit the store, and with that they can buy a handful of goods. 

This ‘bang for your buck’ business model is the crux of Chinese retailers’ rapid success in the UK. 

Temu and Shein have blown their western competitors out of the water by offering irresistibly cheap dresses and accessories. 


Both brands were seemingly unknown before the online shopping push driven by the pandemic but now Shein is now one of the top UK apparel brands and racked £1bn in sales last year. 

Usam told City A.M traditionally China has been “probably closed off a little bit to the outside world”. However, a “concerted push has been made,” since the pandemic from these brands to get greater exposure in the West. 

He said: “China in its own self is a huge economy with 1.8 billion people. And so some businesses probably would have been very happy just to really corner that market. 

“But I think in order to truly be a world wide brand, you have to tailor your business and your practices to the wider world.”

Riding this wave, Miniso is looking to open between eight to 10 stores minimum over the next year. 

Usam said: “When we’re looking at locations we’re looking at our target audience in that location. We’re looking at the right demographic and we’re looking for high footfall areas.”

Its UK frontman said the Chinese firm has poured millions into ensuring it can spawn the UK high street, and is keen to explore locations outside of major cities such as London. 

“We’re looking to add to not just those areas, but also to areas that we’re not really in at the moment,” he added. 

Jonathan De Mello, head of JDM Retail, told City A.M: “Miniso stores have proved popular in the UK with queues on each new store opening. The mix of products has attracted younger shoppers in particular, and adds to the growing presence and popularity of Asian brands in the UK.”

“Miniso has significant scale up potential in the UK too with the recent introduction of their cosmetics line, and online offering.”

The vibrant store also churns out new products at breakneck speed, producing over 100 new products a week from 10,000 samples. 

Rapidly producing products in recent decades has raised sustainability concerns from environmentalists and everyday shoppers. 

Usam said Miniso is trying to be more “sustainable and create a better world for everyone”.

“We’re trying to encourage the behaviour of our consumers by having bento boxes and also reusable cutlery. it is a combination of everyone’s best efforts.”

A statement from Miniso’s financial report in 2023 said the firm was: “Continuously [looking to] improve  operational efficiency, optimise resource usage, reduce waste emissions, and advocate for green office practices”.

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