German-based Metro Group, the world’s third largest retail chain, has signed a contract with the Tianjin municipal government to invest US$15m to set up chain stores in the city’s Hongqiao district. Metro’s first store in northern China will open within 12 months; the group plans to open five stores a year in the big cities of the region. Metro also agreed to source more goods in Tianjin, not only for its stores in China but also around the world.
The agreement was announced at the 2002 International Chain Store (Global Sourcing) Fair held in Tianjin in April. Also at the fair, US-headquartered retailer Wal- Mart said that it plans to set up more purchasing branches in China after moving its regional purchasing centre from Hong Kong to Shenzhen last year. In March the State Economic and Trade Commission announced that it would sponsor a series of international procurement fairs to encourage foreign retailers to increase their procurement of goods in China.