WANG TE-MING worked for the Taiwan-owned Pacific Department Store (PDS) in Shanghai for 15 years and helped it become the market leader. Then he fell out with his boss and resigned, taking 60 of his staff with him. Mr Wang has set up a rival department store chain and aims to overtake his former employer. After he walked out in May last year, following a blazing row with the Chang family who own PDS, Mr Wang found two investors and set up a new company, Da Yang. In the past six months it has opened six department stores across China. The big test comes in December, when Da Yang opens its flagship store in Shanghai, paying 1.1 billion yuan (HK$1.03 billion) for a 20-year lease for eight floors on a prime site on Nanjing Road. 'The Chang family are like emperors,' Mr Wang said. 'If you are not a member of the family, then you are a flunkey. As chief executive, I needed absolute authority but did not have it.' A spokeswoman for PDS declined to respond to his comments. Mr Wang aims to make Da Yang the biggest department store chain in China, with 100 outlets by 2010, and targeted sales of 60 billion yuan. 'My aim is to set up a big chain within three years that will enable us to list,' he said. 'Last year nationwide department store sales were 120 billion yuan. To list, we need at least 10 per cent of that amount, which means at least 35 stores.' The city's retail market is not what it was in 1993, when Mr Wang arrived in Shanghai to run PDS' first store in the city. The market is increasingly competitive, with hypermarkets, 24-hour convenience shops and specialist stores eating into the traditional business of department stores. Meanwhile, barriers on foreign entry are being removed as part of China's World Trade Organisation commitments. Da Yang has three shareholders - the Dalian Wanda Group, a real estate firm which has put in 200 million yuan for a 40 per cent stake, an unnamed financial group also with 40 per cent and Mr Wang and other senior managers who hold 20 per cent. 'Real estate is high profit and high return,' Mr Wang told Dalian Wanda. 'Department stores are low profit and low risk. If you invest in high technology, it would be like going to Las Vegas - an enormous gamble.' Since the firm was established at the end of last year, it has opened stores in Nanchang, Fuzhou, Quanzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi and Suzhou. The Nanjing store, with 220,000 square metres, attracted tens of thousands on its opening day. Last year, before he left PDS, Mr Wang boasted that it was the only foreign-invested department store in Shanghai to make a profit, saying that its rivals were losing money because of the competition or because they made the mistake of buying their own buildings instead of renting or investing in sectors outside their main business. Mr Wang is a maths graduate from Dong Wu University in Taiwan. After graduation he went to work for Lianguang, the island's third biggest advertising company. In 1988, he joined PDS, one of Taiwan's biggest department store chains. In 1993, it sent him to run its first store in Shanghai. He introduced features that were common in Hong Kong and Taipei but new to Shanghai - allowing people to try on clothes, a bright, attractive interior with music, attentive staff and a range of imported goods. Mr Wang targeted consumers under 35, especially white-collar workers and unmarried women. Sales of imported cosmetics rose from five million yuan in 1994 to 140 million yuan in 2001. 'Shanghai people are calculating in their purchases, waiting for the best price and quality,' he said. 'The new rich from outside Shanghai want brands and do not care about the price.' As he tells it, PDS sales in Shanghai rose from 180 million to four billion yuan in the nine years he was in charge.