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Top global brands make a beeline for Shanghai

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated:Jun 18, 2020

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People stand in line at the booth of French cosmetics maker L'Oreal during the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China November 6, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Shanghai is consolidating its place as a destination of choice for global debuts of brands, products and their latest business practices, with foreign retailers flocking to the metropolis in the past month despite the global economic downturn.

Supermarket chain Carrefour launched on Tuesday its first-ever self-run canteen in Shanghai, aiming to combine its indigenous supply chain with freshly-cooked food to provide customers with a one-stop shopping experience.

The restaurant chain, known as Mr Fu, features products and services that are fostered entirely in-house, said Li Yijiang, a director who oversees the catering service at Carrefour. Carrefour China was acquired by retailer Suning last year.

"The entire operation, from the design of the canteen to dishes, is purely run by ourselves. Sourcing directly from our supermarkets, this practice ensures absolute control over quality and management and is cost-effective," Li said.

The company plans to open new on-site premises or renovate existing ones to have 100 such canteens in China by the end of this year.

The move comes as global brands are setting up a foothold in Shanghai and bringing their latest offerings to tap into the vast consumer market.

Earlier this month, L'Oreal Group's high-end brand Yves Saint Laurent opened its global flagship store in Shanghai's downtown Xintiandi, as the cosmetic giant saw sales in China buck the coronavirus downturn.

The new city center store will focus on perfumes, as it banks on the huge disparity between China's population, which accounts for 20 percent of the world's total, and its perfume consumption, which is just 1 percent of the global market.

"The global debut of YSL Beauty's new flagship store marks our bigger commitment to bringing the best of the world's beauty to consumers in Shanghai and China," said L'Oreal China President and CEO Fabrice Megarbane.

YSL Beauty Worldwide Flagship store is equipped with the fullest product range of existing fragrance offerings in the domestic market, with 50 limited-edition YSL Mon Paris perfumes also making their global debut at the store.

Shanghai has long envisioned to build itself into a global shopping paradise. According to the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, the city ranks second in the presence of cross-border retailers, and over 90 percent of international high-end brands are concentrated in the city.

A total of 986 debut stores opened in Shanghai last year, the highest nationwide, while the city also claimed to have the highest number of flagship stores.

In May, the city saw some 33 brands open debut stores or products. Among them were world-leading toy maker Lego Group, which unveiled the first-ever toy series featuring the Chinese legend Monkey King.

Paul Huang, senior vice-president of Lego Group and general manager of Lego in China, said the choice of Shanghai as the venue for the global debut is due to the city's well-blended persona of both Eastern and Western cultures, as well as a string of government policies to improve the business environment and spur consumption.

In the bigger picture, foreign businesses are generally optimistic about China's long-term growth trajectory, citing its comprehensive supply chain, sound infrastructure, as well as sustained opening-up efforts, said Zhang Hailiang, CEO of Tricor Group for the Chinese mainland.

"China's overall strengths, including supply chain, opening-up in financial services, as well as talent in e-commerce, are so prominent that they (foreign businesses) are confident to invest here long-term," he said, based on a recent survey of clients about their attitudes toward China.

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