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July 30, 2009

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Bailian brings taste of Europe

SHANGHAI Bailian Group Co Ltd, the nation's largest retail conglomerate, said yesterday it was increasing its cooperation with overseas retailers and food producers as it becomes a dynamic player on international markets.

The company held a trade fair with European suppliers in Shanghai yesterday, allowing more than 3,000 kinds of food products made by 127 EU companies to enter the Chinese market through Bailian's distribution channels. These included chocolate, snacks, wines and beverages from countries such as Belgium, France and Italy and will be sold in Bailian's major supermarkets, including Hualian, Lianhua and Hualian GMS, and convenience stores such as Lawson and Quick.

Bailian, formed from the merger of four state-owned enterprises in 2003, is China's largest retailer with 7,400 stores nationwide.

Bailian said the trade promotion was part of its ongoing global strategy, which not only includes the introduction of high-quality imported food but also involves the promotion of more made-in-China products on overseas markets.

Yesterday's food imports came after a sourcing agreement signed between Bailian and food producers in EU countries in June this year.

Trade relationships with enterprises in the United States and Japan were set up in July last year and they have already brought in various branded bags, presents and food into China.

Bailian said the demand for imported food had risen quickly over the past few years following lowered tariffs and consumers' stronger purchasing power driven by the nation's fast-expanding economy.

The company also plans to organize domestic suppliers to hold similar trade promotions in Europe and help them expand overseas markets.

Lianhua Supermarket, a subsidy of Bailian, has teamed up with French's Carrefour SA to produce and export food under its own name. Lianhua also produces frozen vegetables and has already sold around 200,000 packages of mungbean noodles in stores belonging to Japan's Izumiya Co.


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