Robust domestic market is teeming with competitors

Updated: 2011-08-25 07:44

By Li Woke (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

 Robust domestic market is teeming with competitors

The Trust-Mart logo of a supermarket in Huanglong, Zhejiang province, is replaced by Walmart's. Xu Yan / for China Daily

BEIJING - The Chinese retail market is blossoming, though the rest of world is slowing down, and competition among domestic and foreign retailers is becoming increasingly fierce.

According to the Kantar Worldpanel, a British research firm, the combined sales of China's retail industry grew 20 percent year-on-year as of 17 June.

And many retailers are looking for growth opportunities in the nation, including the US-based electronics and computer hardware and software giant Apple Inc, which has plans to open a third Shanghai store and dozens of other stores throughout China.

The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics show that Chinese retail sales increased 17.2 percent to 1.44 trillion yuan ($225 billion) from a year earlier. Urban retail sales surged 17.3 percent year-on-year to 1.25 trillion yuan, and rural retail sales jumped 16.4 percent to 191.9 billion yuan.

RT-Mart International Ltd, a Taiwan-headquartered company, was the biggest retailer on the Chinese mainland, with 6.3 percent market share over the year ending June 17, attracting more than one-fourth of households in the mainland market, Kantar Worldpanel said.

RT-Mart now has 161 stores on the mainland. Its growth came from food and non-food products, with personal care products showing slightly stronger growth, with a 0.8 percentage point market share gain between the second quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of this year.

Among foreign competitors, Wal-Mart Inc remained the largest retailer in China in the year ending June 17, taking a 7.7 percent market share and reaching 27 percent of Chinese households. As of Aug 5, Wal-Mart had 346 stores and six Sam's Clubs in 128 cities in China, and it currently holds a 35 percent stake and an additional 30 percent of voting rights in Trust-Mart, one of the top retailers in southern China.

The French retail giant Carrefour Group, the world's second-largest retailer by revenue has seen a stagnant market share trend in the last four quarters in China, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Carrefour held a 4.9 percent market share over the past 52 weeks and has 187 stores across the country.

Tesco Plc, the world's third-largest grocer by revenue, after the US Wal-Mart and French Carrefour, has had a 2.1 percent market share in China over the year. Tesco, which is listed in London, entered the Taiwan market in 2004 and now has 96 supermarkets and 12 convenience stores on the Chinese mainland.

Tesco and Carrefour both have had a fairly stagnant market share trend in the last four quarters, according to Kantar Worldpanel. To grow, both will need to find ways to compete with the stronger performing local players.

A few local retailers have seen robust market share growth in the last quarter compared with that period last year. CR-Vanguard Group gained 0.5 percentage point to reach its current 6.7 percent market share in the past 52 weeks. CR-Vanguard Group saw its market share rise from 6.2 percent in the second quarter of 2010 to 6.7 percent in the second quarter of this year.

Similarly, the Shanghai-based Balian Group has also seen noticeable growth, with market share increasing from 4.3 percent to 4.6 percent in the last quarter, driven mainly by a strong contribution from Century Mart in the largest Chinese cities and provincial capitals, Kantar Worldpanel said.

"Despite some retailers' strong performance over the past quarters, the market is still fragmented," said Wang Hongtao, press officer of the China Chain Store and Franchise Association. "And none of the present retailers have shown a dominant position in the Chinese market."

"Currently, local retailers' logistics, warehousing and shipping are still lagging," said Tang Jiarui, a retail analyst at Everbright Securities Co Ltd. "Local retailers can learn a lot from foreign counterparts after they enter the Chinese market."

"The entry and expansion of foreign retailers in China will definitely affect local businesses," said Wang. "But they will also bring good management, marketing and logistics strategies."

China Daily

(China Daily 08/25/2011 page16)