Shop 'til you drop

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 July, 2005, 12:00am

Thousands of residents scramble into Wal-Mart's first Shanghai superstore which was formally opened yesterday by company officials and government dignitaries.

The new 18,000 square metre facility is located in a quiet residential district in Pudong, close to the Huangpu river. Wal-Mart's decision to open in the nation's most competitive retail market is part of the US giant's efforts to overtake rivals Carrefour and Metro to become the largest foreign retailer in China.

On the same day, Metro opened its first megastore in Shenzhen - Wal-Mart's headquarters in China - a sign of how the mainland is gaining in importance for the world's retail giants as sales growth falters in Europe and the US.

Joe Hatfield, chief executive of Asia for Wal-Mart, said that, in addition to the new store, two more were under way in Shanghai. This was its 48th in China and the number will reach 55 by the end of this year and 90 by the end of next year.

But its sales in China last year of 7.6 billion yuan were less than half of the 16.24 billion yuan of Carrefour, the fifth-biggest retailer in China, which has 63 outlets and a wider national coverage. The French retailer opened its first store in Shanghai in 1995.

Shanghai is the most retail-intensive city in China, with more than 100 hypermarkets. They are operated by major foreign brands, including Carrefour, Auchan, Metro and the CP Group of Thailand, as well as local companies such as Bailian Group, the biggest retailer in China.

The new store offers eight free bus routes, to bring and take home customers from other parts of the city.