Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings plans to spend up to 250 million yuan opening 130 stores this year to enlarge its share of the highly competitive market. The country's largest home electrical appliance retailer will almost double its outlets to 247 by focusing on Beijing, Tianjin, Shenzhen and cities with populations of more than 500,000 and supportive per capita gross domestic product. Chairman Wong Kwong-yiu yesterday dismissed concerns that the rapid expansion would raise Gome's potential risk exposure, saying there were 600 cities with populations of over half a million. 'Given a vast market like China, our expansion pace and coverage are relatively slow,' said Mr Wong, who was ranked by Forbes magazine as China's second-richest man with net worth of US$1.3 billion, behind Citic Pacific chairman Larry Yung Chi-kin, who had amassed US$1.49 billion. Mr Wong rejected suggestions that the ambitious plans were intended to fend off competition from global players such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour. 'Our expansion does not target any major players. It is a long-term move to build up our presence at a time when demand is on the rise,' he said, adding Gome aimed to capture 15 per cent of the market by 2008 from 5 per cent. Gome announced a 44.5 rise in net profit to $352.91 million for the nine months to December after it changed its financial year-end from March 31 to December 31. The company declared a final dividend of 2.5 cents per share. Gome shares fell 5 per cent to $8.55 yesterday.