Dazhong, China's leading home appliance chain, cancelled a high-profile press conference yesterday at the last minute, leaving the more than 100 journalists on hand slightly dumbfounded.
"One minute ago, headquarters informed me the briefing is cancelled," Luo Lian, director of Dazhong's marketing and communication department, told reporters. "I'm sorry."
She declined to comment on why the event was cancelled.
The news briefing had been scheduled to expose one of Dazhong's own staff members, who allegedly revealed confidential documents to Dazhong's major competitor, which the company declined to name.
An anonymous company official said a Dazhong employee had revealed the company's marketing proposals, pricing information, outlet-opening agreements and other important contracts to its largest competitor in the Beijing market, according to the Oriental Morning Post.
Song Hong, Dazhong's general manager, said the male staff member has held a variety of jobs within the company, adding that he "has been missing for some time".
Media outlets have reported the company plans to sue the employee.
Last October Dazhong broke a strategic partnership with China Paradise Electronics Retail Ltd, after Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings Ltd, the industry's largest player, bought China Paradise for US$675 million.
Dazhong is Beijing's largest home appliance maker, with more than 60 outlets. It accounts for almost half the city's home appliance network.
Gome has been the dominant player in the nationwide market for years, and admits that Beijing is the company's central area of concern at the moment, according to media reports.
Earlier market rumors indicate Nanjing-based Suning Appliance Co Ltd will spend 3 billion yuan to acquire Dazhong. Both sides have denied the rumors.
China's home appliance retail market has been consolidating in recent years. Best Buy, the biggest US consumer electronics retailer, bought a controlling stake in China's fourth-largest electronics retailer, Jiangsu Five Star Appliance, last year.
Competition has been raging in China's retail sector, a market expected to triple to 20 trillion yuan over the next decade.
(China Daily June 1, 2007)