The owner of a range of authentic African-style ready meals has come up with an innovative solution to flagging sales leasing vacant shop space in a London shopping centre.

The five-strong range of Cuisine Africana-branded dishes was launched by Kiny Foods into big city branches of Londis, Nisa and Costcutter last November to target Afro and Afro-Caribbean communities.

However, two weeks ago Kiny Foods took over the lease of an empty store in Aylesham shopping centre, Peckham, to sell the range following disappointing sales at the c-stores.

Akin Magbadelo, MD of Kiny Foods, said the rent for the Cuisine Africana outlet was low enough to make the venture worthwhile. "The current economic market allows for shopping centre owners, who have seen many stores close down and face loss of income, to welcome an enterprise like this."

Sales at the store have totalled an average £1,000 each week not enough to break even, conceded Magbadelo, although he was confident sales would improve and was already in discussions with a shopping centre owner in Stratford, east London, about opening a second store. He also plans to open shopping centre stores in Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham.

Surrey-based Kiny Foods is advertising the range and store location in local newspapers, supported by a leaflet campaign.

Traditional African ready meals had previously not found a market in the UK because people had always made the dishes from scratch, claimed Magbadelo. "Afro and Afro-Caribbeans in the UK have been able to move up the economic ladder with better jobs, giving less time to prepare the food they love. As third-generation immigrants have been westernised, there is an increased desire for authentic yet more convenient African meals," he said.

The range of pouches comprises beef stew, chicken stew (rsp: £3.49) and West African-style Jollof rice dishes (rsp: £1.79-£2.99). Kiny Foods claims the recipes are traditional and free of artificial colours and preservatives.