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Chinese-funded hypermarket in Zimbabwe to expand

Source:   Time:

HARARE, April 7 (Xinhua) -- The largest supermarket in Zimbabwe by size, Horizon Ivato, will be further expanded to include a fresh produce store and have prices of regionally-produced goods slashed to stay relevant in the country's highly-competitive retail sector, its manager said.

Situated inside the sprawling Longcheng Plaza in Harare's western suburbs, Horizon Ivato Zimbabwe (HIZ) opened its two wings in December last year -- a 6,500-square-meters grocery store and Chinese goods market and 7,500-square-meters hardware store. The new wing, a 1,000-square-meters fresh produce market, will be added and become operational by end of June this year, HIZ's manager Hasson Hu told Xinhua in an interview Monday.

Costumers can also expect a cut in prices for regionally- produced goods, mainly South African-made products, as HIZ is to venture into the wholesale sector, enabling itself to procure goods from suppliers at lower prices. A 2,000-square-meters warehouse will be set up in Longcheng to support the operation of the fresh produce store. Investment for the expansion would cost about 2.5 million U.S. dollars, the manager said.

"We want to create the first One-Stop mall in Harare's southwestern suburbs. Customers can buy whatever they can find in the market at very competitive prices," Hu said. "We will also improve the procurement of made-in-China goods to offer our customers the 'best products' from China."

Horizon Ivato Zimbabwe is a Chinese-Zimbabwean joint venture. Elsewhere in Africa, its sister supermarkets have opened in Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Togo.

Though HIZ's Zimbabwe operation is the largest by size, it will still face stiff competition in the country's retail sector, wrestling market shares from OK Zimbabwe, SPAR Zimbabwe, and TM supermarkets. All three have been operating here for decades and have established strong brand recognition among Zimbabweans, observers say.

The retail sector, like many other economic sectors, suffered from Zimbabwe's decade-old economic stagnation and galloping inflation before 2009.

But things started to look positive when the government adopted the greenback as the country's main currency, bringing stability to the fragile economy. Over the past five years, foreign investors returned, shops flourished, and a variety of goods were back on shelves.

A number of smaller retailers settled down in Harare's bustling town proper, doing a brisk business selling budget made-in-China goods.

Hu said, however, HIZ won't threaten the livelihood of small retailers as the hypermarket targets on consumers of all social strata. "With HIZ entering the market, Zimbabwe's retail sector will further develop, creating jobs and boosting the economy," he said.

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