Only days after electrical retail giant Gome took it over, top officials from China Paradise Electronics Retail (Yolo) are jumping ship to arch-rival Suning.
Yesterday afternoon alone, 11 top Yolo officials went to Suning's Shanghai headquarters to apply for jobs, according to a statement issued by Suning.
The senior officials included five Yolo store managers, said Suning spokesman Zhou Xiaoyu.
Shanghai-based Yolo, China's third-largest home appliance retailer, has 72 stores in Shanghai and 50,000 staff across the country.
Suning, which is planning to move its headquarters from Nanjing to Shanghai, is understandably keen to recruit as much local talent as possible.
The defections to Suning are taking place against a backdrop of uneasiness among Yolo staff after the firm was taken over by the chain.
This is despite Gome President Huang Guangyu's pledge that there would be no discrimination or massive job cuts in the wake of the takeover.
But a Yolo store manager in Shanghai's Pudong District remained to be convinced.
The boss, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "We are unsure about Yolo's future and our future."
At one point, the strained relationship between Gome and Yolo even degenerated into violence when some top Gome officials visited a Yolo store in Shanghai.
Angry Yolo staff accused the Gome officials of coming to spy on them, and fisticuffs ensued.
"Outsiders do not know our feelings towards Gome, feelings that I think are reciprocated by Gome staff," said a sales manager at Yolo's Pudong store.
Compared with staff in Shanghai, Yolo's employees in other cities are more worried about their future.
The stores outside Shanghai, which have been consistently loss-making, are set for a root-and-branch restructure.
Market analysts said the differences between Gome and Yolo's corporate cultures may cause problems for Gome when it is restructuring Yolo's stores.
(China Daily August 4, 2006)