"Container supermarkets" appear in rural areas in east China province

21:04, September 19, 2010      

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What can discarded containers do? A Chinese businessman has turned them into small supermarkets in rural areas in east China's Zhejiang Province.

A new orange-colored cube has appeared in Yunlong Village in Changhe Township in Binjiang District of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, one week ago, and has attracted villagers.

The eye-catching cube is 30 square meters of brand new supermarket named Yunlong Supermarket, constructed from discarded containers. The market, with two windows and a big door, is covered with advertisements, which makes it appear to be anything but a container.

More than 20,000 products are for sale in the cube, where electric lights and air-conditioning have been installed. Customers can even enjoy music while shopping in the cube.

The cube is one of the 200 "Haolifang Supermarket" stores (literally good cube) in Zhejiang Province, which have been in existence since May 2009.

"The cube can largely reduce the costs of construction and draw the urban business mode to rural areas," said Chen Jianhua, founder of the Haolifang chain supermarkets, board chairman of Nanda EP technology Group Co., Ltd. Chen had previously run a food packaging and manufacturing business with sales of two billion yuan (about 294 million U.S. dollars) in 2009.

Chen said he was inspired by the new governmental policy of stimulating domestic demand and developing rural markets following the global downturn in 2008.

The company collected mountains of discarded containers in coastal areas, where the containers were to be to be melted down after being used for eight years.

The cost of an 80-square-meter container supermarket, with a building life of 20 years, is only about 500,000 yuan, only one-third of a cement building, and it can be placed on abandoned land, instead of building lands or arable lands.

"One of the most severe problems in rural markets is the food security, as food in most rural stores can not be guaranteed. Haolifang is trying to become the nemesis of the hidden dangers of food security," Chen said.

Further, Haolifang invested three million yuan to explore new computer software to identify all products in supermarkets to avoid selling fake products.

"Village stores used to sell counterfeit milk powder. I had to go a long way into the county seat for milk powder. But now I can find good powder in my own village," said 27-year-old mother Wang Yanli in Hongqi Village in Haining City in Zhejiang.

Her experience was echoed by another villager in Lu'er Village in Haining. "The village store sold fake cigarette for 20 years. The new store from an urban area ended my worries," said 61-year-old Wang Jinling.

Experts say that the Haolifang business model is a new attempt to create "new rural construction."

"Haolifang recycles discarded resources and adopts integrated management, which fits in with rural areas boasting an annual gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of 9,000 U.S. dollars," said Ma Xiaohe, vice president of the Academy of Microeconomic Research with the National Development and Reform Commission.

Villagers told Xinhua that Halifang also provides other services, including mail services, logistics distribution, computer printing, free blood pressure measurements and free job information services.

"Our goal is to establish 10,000 Haolifang supermarkets in the next five years across China," Chen Jianhua said.

Source: Xinhua


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