The Pleasure Seekers’ Paradise

Beautiful architectural exteriors are an attraction at longcheng plaza – Picture by Kudakwashe Hunda

Beautiful architectural exteriors are an attraction at longcheng plaza – Picture by Kudakwashe Hunda

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Their tag-line “a thousand experiences” says it all — it has many faces, lots of names and serves countless purposes for different people.

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Some go there for the shopping experience — ranging from general groceries at the popular supermarket, to fashion at various boutiques and even hardware at the several well-stocked outlets dotted around the mall.

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Little kids know the place for its amazing amusement park, Amu Semene Children’s Park, while a number of people love the place for its variety when it comes to restaurants and pubs.

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Recently, though, it’s immense popularity has grown even more with imbibers and pleasure-seekers frequenting the newly-opened 1 + 1 Happy Nightclub, a joint offering a rich clubbing experience and considered to be one of the best in the country.

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Away from the hedonism, there is serious business going on here. This is Longcheng International Plaza in Harare’s Belvedere suburb next to the National Sports Stadium.

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Companies use Longcheng as an office park, while a number of banks have strategically positioned themselves across the facility.

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For the “health nuts”, there is Total Fitness — a gym with all the modern equipment and trained personnel that one may require to either simply stay in shape or to build some serious muscle.

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Longcheng International Plaza, which opened its doors in December 2013, indeed offers a one-stop shopping experience — one can literally spend the whole day at the very neat complex.

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There are all manner of boutiques dealing with your everyday formal and casual wear as well as those specialising in bridal and children’s apparel. Add to that a 5D cinema, the amusement park, a game centre, the banks, surgeries, pharmacies, the gym and a genuine Chinese karaoke hangout and you have everything you can ask for in one place.

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The hypermarket is widely talked about as the largest supermarket in the country in terms of floor space.

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It is not odd to see a father, mother and their children spending an entire day at Longcheng without getting bored. The ease of parking, the convenience of having everything right there and the overall ambience give the mall the edge over other facilities in Zimbabwe.

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The Sunday Mail Leisure spoke to Mr Hu, the general manager of Horizon Ivato Supermarket who also leads the management team of Longcheng.

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Hu, for good reason, was clearly biased towards the 16 000 square-metre supermarket, which retails general groceries, fresh produce, hardware shop and wholesale options, spoke highly of the quality of the products on offer. He said there was a misconception that all things from China are of cheap quality and therefore, low-priced.

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“We do not sell poor quality things here — we import from China, only the best. We also get local suppliers and some South African producers of goods to give us the best quality because this is a high-end shopping mall,” said Hu.

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Rentals and prices of goods, which were astronomical when the complex opened over a year ago, have adjusted, giving serious competition to retailers in Harare’s central business district.

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“Most of our prices are 30 percent cheaper than the prices in town. When we opened this place our goods were priced a little higher, but we have since adjusted as we try to push volumes and make this place popular with shoppers,” he said.

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In terms of job creation, Longcheng is playing its part as space continues to be taken up by new businesses.

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Ivato Hypermarket alone employs 230 people, of which only 10 are Chinese while the rest are Zimbabweans.

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“Contrary to what has been said that we bring everything including labour from China — we employ 220 Zimbabweans here and we offer them very competitive salaries. Only 10 Chinese people work here,” said Hu.

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He went on: “In terms of goods, we are still importing about 80 percent because production in this country at the moment is very low, but we try our best to ensure that we procure everything that we can from local companies.”