MILAN, Sept. 23 (Class Editori) – The pictures of Zhang Jindong walking among the stands at the Eataly Smeraldo, in Milan, during his visit to the city in recent days, accompanied by top manager Andrea Guerra, attracted the attention of the Chinese financial press. According to the Economic Observer, during the two days that Zhang spent in Milan – founder and patron of Suning – he visited other places rather than just going at San Siro Stadium for Inter's Champions League debut and at the dinner with Massimo Moratti.
The visit of Suning's patron to the supermarket chain, founded in 2007 by Oscar Farinetti and participated by the TIP financier Gianni Tamburi, has two possible reasons: to study the Eataly model, or to evaluate possible forms of direct collaboration.
In China, Suning is one of the first retail companies, a position strengthened with the acquisition of 80% of the 319 stores of Carrefour China, the fourth largest Chinese group in the sector. The Nanjing group, listed in Shenzhen, closed 2018 with revenues of 32 billion euros and sales of 44 billion euros. Last year, online sales revenues increased by 64.45%. The company has a network of 11 thousand stores, located in China, Hong Kong and Japan.
In the last period, after the acquisitions of Carrefour and Wanda stores, Zhang's attention focused on how to renew the offer. In this perspective, the "experience" offered by Eataly would seem to be an example to follow, even if the collaboration is not excluded, especially since in the past they already signed contracts.
To this end, the relations between the parties has been going on for some time, with meetings between the heads of the Italian group to evaluate commercial and industrial partnerships. Those relations were then maintained by the Zhang Jindong's, Steven Zhang, president of Inter. In particular, the parties are evaluating the possibility of setting up an Italian-Chinese joint venture or defining an exclusive franchise agreement for the local market. The goal is to open Eataly stores in China and in other Asian countries. The path could be formalized soon.
Indeed, the business prospects are attractive for both potential partners. "Italy is currently Suning's most important reference market in Europe," said Jindong last July, in a meeting with the ICE top management, Italian Trade & Investment Agency. According to company sources, in 2018 the sale of foreign products on the Suning platform has increased by over 200%.
Italian fashion, design and lifestyle brands in China fully suit the taste of a wealthy consumer segment that is booming. Deloitte China has estimated that, in the context of ever-expanding total consumption, middle-class consumers – who are currently 300 million – will double within the next year, and that the e-commerce penetration of total retail will reach 33% by 2020.
Furthermore, according to the same analysis, 772 million people use the Internet frequently and about 40% of online shoppers choose foreign products. The EU SME Centre in Beijing has calculated that imports of Made in Italy products in China will grow in 2020 by over 210% thanks to online purchases. The products of the medium-high range fashion segment will mostly benefit from the measure, adding up to exports in 2018 which exceeded 2 billion euros. As for agribusiness, figures amounted to 450 million euros. (All Right Reserved)
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