Five Star headed for Best Buy
Best Buy, the largest consumer electronics retailer in North America, plans to pay US$180 million for a majority stake in Jiangsu Five Star Appliance, China's fourth-largest home appliance chain. With the purchase Best Buy will gain immediate access to Five Star's 193 stores in eight Chinese provinces. Best Buy CEO Robert Willett expects consumer electronics sales to hit US$100 billion by 2010.
April retail sales up 13.6%
Retail sales figures for April were up 13.6% from a year earlier to US$72.15 billion, the National Bureau of Statistics announced. It is the fastest growth rate in a year after growth peaked at 17.8% in May 2004, before cooling in line with state-imposed curbs on lending and investment. The rebound comes after China cut taxes and raised minimum wages in a bid to encourage consumer spending.
Wal-Mart under fire
A confrontation is looming between Wal-Mart and the Chinese government and biggest trade-union group, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, over the US retailer's reluctance to allow unions into its stores. The company said it did not agree to unionize, but would abide by Chinese laws barring companies from obstructing workers forming unions. Mike Duke, chief executive of Wal-Mart International, said that, as far as he knew, none of Wal-Mart's 30,000 workers at any of its 58 stores had expressed an interest in forming a union.
Warner releases budget DVD
A movie DVD costing just US$1.50 has been put on sale by Warner Home Video (WHV) in a bid to make headway in the piracy-dogged Chinese market. A "simple pack" of "The Aviator" – which comes in cardboard packaging rather than a plastic box – went on sale in several Chinese cities. The standard DVD costs US$20-30 in Europe and the US but bootlegs can be picked up in China for around US$0.75.
Wumart reaps golden rewards
Sales at Wumart, Beijing's leading supermarket chain, rocketed 50% over the week-long May holiday compared to last year. This came after the company posted a 42.5% rise in net profit to US$7.8 million in the first quarter.
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