Business / Industries

Capital's famous brands eye expansion opportunity

By Dong Jidong (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-23 07:51

Since the commerce departments in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province signed an agreement in September to promote market integration and the smooth flow of products, Beijing's time-honored brands and supermarket chains have been quick to seize the opportunity.

Both brands and supermarkets have opened about 100 outlets in Tianjin and Hebei, Yan Ligang, director of the Beijing commission of commerce, said at a news conference on Friday, ahead of the start of the China Development Forum on Saturday.

"The region's integrated development is beneficial to time-honored brands," said Zhu Yuling, head of the Beijing Huatian Catering Group Corp, which owns the Qingfeng Steamed Stuffed Bun restaurants. The company opened Qingfeng restaurants in Tianjin and Tangshan in Hebei province last year, and it plans to open at least three Huguosi snack restaurants in Hebei this year.

However, some well-known Beijing brands had been looking beyond the capital even before the government unveiled its integration plan. Neiliansheng, a well-known maker of cloth shoes that was founded in 1853, launched its operations in Hebei as early as 2003, according to Cheng Xu, assistant general manager of the company.

The company sped up its development in the province in recent years and has more than 10 outlets in Shijiazhuang, Tangshan and Chengde, Cheng said on Friday.

Founded in 1895, Daoxiangcun, a chain famous for traditional snacks, also made great strides in expanding its operations. It already has 135 franchised stores in Tianjin and Hebei.

Starting this year, the company loosened the requirement for franchisees. The company has abolished franchise fees, and franchisees only need to pay 100,000 yuan ($16,110) as a cash deposit, said Liu Guizhang, director of the company's market development department.

While keen to expand beyond the capital, Zhu cautioned that time-honored brands had to adapt to local conditions during their expansion.

"We are planning to slow down our opening of Qingfeng Steamed Stuffed Bun restaurants because cross-regional development is more demanding of corporate management," Zhu said.

It is not just time-honored brands that are looking to cash in on the accelerated integration efforts, supermarket chains are expanding their presence in Tianjin and Hebei as well.

Representatives from several supermarket chains, including Wal-Mart, Wu Mart and Lotte Mart, say they are planning to open more outlets in the region. Chaoshifa, a supermarket chain based in Beijing, has already developed vegetable bases at Zhangjiakou in Hebei, and it is planning to expand its operations in the province.

Over the past year, there has also been accelerated development of the logistics industry in the region. The Mafang logistics center in the capital's Pinggu district has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Caofeidian logistics park in Tianjin.

Vegetable producers in Hebei have opened 56 chain stores in Beijing, according to the Beijing municipal commission of commerce.

The integration of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei is also presenting more opportunities for foreign trade.

Launched in July last year, an integrated customs clearance system means fewer days are spent completing the necessary clearance procedures and the expenses on transportation have been reduced.

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