China Square, a popular Chinese-owned retailer selling affordable home goods has announced plans to open its second store in Kenya.
The new location will be at Waterfront Karen, an upscale shopping center in Nairobi.
The company revealed the expansion in a recent Facebook post, saying “Exciting times ahead! The countdown for the Waterfront branch opening has begun.”
China Square entered the Kenyan market by opening a large 12,000-square-meter store at Unicity Mall along Thika Road in Nairobi.
Occupying substantial retail space, the store offered a wide selection of over 15,000 competitively priced items for home furnishings, including kitchenware, hardware, decor, furniture, appliances, toys, stationery and party supplies.
The Unicity Mall location quickly became a popular shopping destination for locals seeking quality home goods at low costs compared to other Kenyan retailers. However, just one month after opening, China Square faced backlash from rival traders who complained about its rock-bottom pricing.
In response, Kenyan Trade Minister Moses Kuria stated that Chinese investors would be supported as manufacturers in Kenya, not as retailers undercutting local businesses. He announced plans to have the government lease the Unicity Mall space from China Square, evict the company from the premises, and sublet the property to small Kenyan traders. Meanwhile, Kuria offered to assist China Square in launching a manufacturing operation in Kenya and establishing distribution partnerships with Kenyan partners.
The China Square store suddenly shut its doors on February 26, 2023, with the company citing public safety issues from high customer traffic, staffing shortages and the inability to meet shopper expectations. At its peak before closing, the outlet reportedly sold KES 10 million worth of merchandise daily.
The Kenya China Chamber of Commerce condemned Kuria’s proposal to remove China Square from Unicity Mall without consultation as a violation of Kenya’s neutral stance on trade and investment.
The store later reopened to continue with operations.
While an opening date has not been set, the new Waterfront Karen location aims to serve the needs of residents in the affluent neighborhood. The store plans to offer similar products as the now-shuttered Unicity Mall outlet, providing complete home furnishing solutions to enhance customers’ living spaces.