The world's three largest retailing giants, Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Metro, plan to carve out places in the developing Chinese market within the next year, said sources from the ongoing Ninth Shanghai Commodities Fair.
High-level officials associated with all three enterprises attended a seminar during the fair and revealed some of their strategies for gaining stronger footholds in what most consider to be a massive potential market.
Wal-Mart, the No 1 worldwide retailer, announced it would double its outlets in China next year.
Although Wal-Mart entered China in 1996, it has been relatively slow in expanding its operations, compared to Carrefour and Metro. The US-based company has only launched eight outlets in the past five years, most of them located in the Pearl River delta.
The eight new outlets, all still in the planning stages, will be located in Shenyang in Liaoning Province, Fuzhou in Fujian Province, and Shantou and Guangzhou in Guangdong Province.
New CEO H Lee Scott said he was also very interested in opening an outlet in Beijing.
Carrefour, the first company to bring the huge retail store format to China in 1995, has managed to spread all over the country, with 23 outlets in 15 big cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Shenzhen.
On September 18, France-based Carrefour decided to end its attempts to do business in Hong Kong, closing its four outlets there. Some Beijing-based media observers claimed Carrefour was giving up a pawn to save a chariot. In other words, the company had decided to take a loss in Hong Kong, where it were doing little business, in order to protect its more lucrative mainland ventures.
After moving its headquarters in China from Beijing to Shanghai last year, Carrefour also set up an official training center in Shanghai, the highest level center of its kind in Asia.
"The center aims to train more local high level officials," said Chen Yaodong, deputy executive manager of Carrefour China. "The localization of employees is a foundation for the development of business in China."
Germany-based Metro announced it will also double the number of its outlets in China next year, after it gained approval from the State Council in September to develop branches in some trial cities. Like Wal-Mart, Metro will have 16 branches in China by the time its expansion is complete.
"Our customary targeting of specialized customers won't change, despite some disagreements within the company," said Lu Guoman, chief operating officer of Metro Jingjiang Shopping Center Co. Ltd Shanghai. "Our strategy has suited Metro most up to now. Considering the limited marketing space, Metro will stick to this position."
(China Daily 11/03/2000)