Best Buy to Open 1st China Retail Outlet
Aug 29, 2006
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Best Buy Co. is teaming up with local partner Jiangsu Five Star Appliance Co., China's No. 4 appliance and consumer electronics retailer, in opening a store in Shanghai's busy Xujiahui shopping district.

"We will open the first store hopefully toward the end of the year by December," Robert Willett, Best Buy's chief executive officer, said in an AP report. "But we're only going to open when it's right," he said. "This is not a race."

Best Buy, the biggest U.S. consumer electronics retailer, is only one of scores of foreign retailers taking advantage of a lifting of limits on foreign competition to try to woo consumers in the world's biggest potential market.

Despite intense local competition in the lower segments of the market, foreign brands dominate in malls and shopping centers aimed at the country's fast-growing middle class, who are able and willing to pay a bit more for better service and quality.

Best Buy, based in Minneapolis, MN, U.S., announced in May that it paid U.S. $180 million for a majority stake in Jiangsu Five Star, giving it an immediate presence in Asia's fastest growing market.

China is also one of Asia's most saturated markets, where appliance retailers and manufacturers compete amid brutal price wars and rampant piracy of technology and brand names.

And as foreign retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. make inroads into their home territory, local retailers are fighting back. China's No. 1 consumer electronics retailer, Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. made an offer in July to buy Hong Kong-listed China Paradise Electronics Retail Ltd., the country's third largest seller of electric appliances.

Best Buy is concentrating on researching the market and recruiting and training staff before making its next move in China.

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