Shanghai plans to merge the companies owning four of the country's largest retailers to prepare for growing competition from foreign retailers in China, Dow Jones reported. The parent companies of Lianhua Supermarket Holdings, Hualian Supermarket Co, Shanghai No 1 Department Store and Shanghai Material Trading Centre would be owned by a holding company, reportedly to be called the Bailian Group. It would be led by Zhang Xinsheng, chairman of Yibai Group, the owners of Shanghai No 1 Department Store. Details of the launch date and the ownership structure were unknown.
Both Lianhua, which has more than 1,700 stores, and Hualian, which operates nearly 1,200 stores, have recently announced aggressive expansion plans. Analysts said that move was aimed to prevent local domestic firms competing against each other through price cuts, although integration of the businesses would take a long time.
Hualian has recently received official approval to use the Wing On brand name, the name by which its store in Nanjing Road was known before it was nationalised after the Communists took power, South China Morning Post said.