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Gome Claims Top Rank
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Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings Ltd, the biggest household appliance chain in China, is the country's largest retailer, surpassing its foreign and domestic rivals, according to an industry report.


Gome topped the list of China's top 100 chain stores with sales of nearly 87 billion yuan and 820 retail outlets in 2006, according to a report jointly released by the Ministry of Commerce and the China Chain Store and Franchise Association.


China's top 100 chain stores reported a 26 percent annual rise in sales to 855.2 billion yuan in 2006, the report said.


Electrical appliance retailers were the best performers, with five of them entering the top 30. Sales of the top five electrical appliance retailers increased by 56 percent, much higher than other retailers.


The report also indicated that foreign retailers were active in China's market. Sixteen overseas retailers posted a combined 168.8 billion yuan in 2006 sales, accounting for 32 percent of the total.


And while the top five retailers were Chinese firms, foreign retailers were the fastest-growing players. Sales growth of foreign retailers was 27 percent on average, compared with Chinese firms' growth of 17 percent.


Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer, saw its sales grow by 53 percent to 24.8 billion yuan to become the sixth-biggest retailer in China. And the world's largest retailer Wal-Mart's sales increased by 30 percent to 15 billion yuan, ranking it 14th biggest in China.


Foreign retailers are expanding their networks in China to tap the fast-growing consumer market. Carrefour last year expanded its China network to 95 outlets, up from 62 stores. Wal-Mart increased its network to 71, up from 56.


Overseas retailers also increased their presence in China through acquisitions, the report said. The world's largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot, purchased local retailer Home Way last year. Tesco, a British supermarket chain, also increased its share in Hymall, one of China's largest retailers, in 2006. Wal-Mart agreed with local retailer Trust-Mart to purchase 35 percent of its shares in February.


Fierce competition has also caused further consolidation among domestic players. Jingkelong Co, the major retailer in Beijing, bought an 11-percent share in Shoulian Group in February, taking over around 40 retail outlets.


(China Daily March 28, 2007)


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