Retailers Move To China
Dec 26, 2006
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Home Depot, the world's biggest do-it-yourself group, was said in February to be in talks to acquire a stake in Orient Home, one of China's largest DIY chains, according to the Financial Times. Home Depot appeared close to acquiring up to 49 percent in Orient Home from its parent, Chinese conglomerate Orient Group, for more than U.S. $200 million. The move would give Home Depot entry into the $50 billion Chinese home improvement market.

It would also enable the U.S. group to compete with international rivals such as B&Q, owned by Kingfisher, the UK group, in China's fast-growing DIY market, the report added. Nothing came of the deal in the ensuing months.

In June, it was Best Buy's turn. Best Buy Co., Inc. (Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.) acquired a majority interest in Jiangsu Five Star Appliance Co., Ltd., China’s fourth-largest appliance and consumer electronics retailer. The acquisition gave Best Buy immediate retail presence through Five Star’s 136 stores in eight of China’s 34 provinces. Even with the Five Star outlets, CEO Robert Willett said, the company planned to move ahead with plans to open Best Buy retail stores in China.

Office equipment retailer Office Depot made two acquisitions in Asia in 2006. In February, Office Depot acquired controlling interest in Best Office Co., Ltd., a leading office supply retailer in South Korea. Best Office, based in Seoul, has annual revenues of more than U.S. $44 million and operates more than 70 franchised and company-owned retail stores as well as a delivery sales business.

In early October, Office Depot announced another takeover, this time in China. The retailer purchased controlling interest in AsiaEC, one of the largest dealers of office products and services in China. AsiaEC is headquartered in Beijing and has offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which are its four markets. The company has 500 employees supporting contract sales, direct mail and internet businesses. AsiaEC's customer offerings include office supplies, technology, furniture, custom printing and promotional items, and business services. AsiaEC will operate under the Office Depot International Division.

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