Best Buy launched two new stores in Shanghai yesterday making a total of five new branches in less than 20 days as the USA's largest home appliance chain attempts to compensate for the recession in their domestic market.
Best Buy's US headquarters recently announced staff layoffs and delays to new store launches as the economic crisis deepened, but said the company's operation in China would not be affected.
The company made a relatively slow start in China, opening its first store at the end of 2006, and its second in 2008.
But it suddenly accelerated development this November opening 5 stores in Shanghai, and a high-end outlet in Beijing.
Best Buy's Shanghai stores are no bigger than 100 square meters and the Beijing store, which focuses on the high-end digital products, takes up just 400 square meters, much smaller than competitors Gome and Suning's floor space.
"The size and type of our stores are in line with demand in their surroundings", said Qian Yan, spokesperson for Best Buy China. She said Best Buy would launch more stores in China next year, and that the company's China strategy is independent of its US operation.
Best Buy had previously said it would clone the models of successful Chinese home appliance giants, like Gome and Suning and insiders say Best Buy's repositioning to focus on high-end products is a forced decision, since they cannot rival their Chinese competitors in scale or supply chain. Best Buy's focus on smaller volumes but higher quality products is one way of dealing with fierce competition in the sector, and the company is also using the opportunity offered by the Huang Guangyu (Gome's former CEO) incident to boost its presence in China.
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(China.org.cn by Maverick Chen, December 25, 2008)