In the past few days, the little known Unicity Mall has been on the limelight following the closure of its anchor tenant, the China Square.
The shopping store was closed after Investments, Trade and Industry CS Moses Kuria called for its exit from the Kenyan market.
The CS accused China Square of pricing local traders out of business, insisting that Chinese investors should focus on manufacturing in Kenya, rather than trading.
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The Unicity Mall
The mall had remained largely unoccupied for quite a while and the tenancy of China Square was a huge blessing.
The mall which is owned by Kenyatta University had been looking for a tenant to occupy their space for more than five years.
Until China Square took over the vacant space, the Ksh 3 billion mall had an occupancy rate of 30 percent.
The first phase of the shopping mall was commissioned in February 2016 by the then Cabinet Secretary for Education, Fred Matiang’i.
Phase 1 of the mall was supposed to host a departmental store, retail shops, banks, food courts, a petrol station run by the National Oil Corporation of Kenya and a spacious car park.
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The other phases were set to host conference facilities, a five-star hotel and a recreational park.
After completion of the project, Uchumi Supermarket had intended to become the anchor tenant of the mall but the idea crumbled down.
By the time the mall was launched, former vice chancellor of Kenyatta University, Prof Olive Mugenda was sure of a good turnover.
“From a research that we undertook prior to the construction of the mall, we realised that statistically, Thika Super Highway has an approximate traffic load of 70,000 vehicles daily, which is increasing at a rate of about 1,000 cars every month,” she said during the commissioning
“The huge human settlement of approximately two million that dwell along the highway, within and around the main campus makes the Unicity a business hub for income generation. Kenyatta University alone, with over 70,000 students and over 5,000 members of staff, offers a ready market for entrepreneurs who will invest at the mall,” she said.
China Square ownership
The shopping mall owned by Chinese national Lei Cheng.
The 37 year old businessman first came to Kenya in September 2022. He was surprised to find Chinese products on supermarket shelves heavily overpriced. This ignited a business idea that gave birth to China Square.
He went back to his home country and talked suppliers into setting shop in Kenya.
The store became a reality on January 29, 2023 and they made sales worth Ksh20 million in their first two weeks of operation adding that they now sell goods worth Ksh10 million on a rainy day.
“We opened this store on January 29 this year. We are barely a month old. In the first two weeks in business, our sales turnover was Sh20 million. Nowadays, on a bad day we sell goods worth Sh10 million,” Mr Cheng told the Saturday Nation.
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