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Zong eyes expansion of department store business

By Feng Jianmin (Shanghai Daily)

10:41, July 18, 2013

BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Zong Qinghou, China's drinks tycoon and the richest man on the mainland, said he wants to expand his footprint in the department store sector and is considering an initial public offering for his mall business when it becomes full-fledged.

The 68-year-old billionaire, who ranks 86th on the latest Forbes wealth list with US$11.6 billion in assets, told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that he will focus on introducing foreign brands to the 100 malls he plans to open in China over the next three to five years.

"There is still much room for expanding the department store business in smaller cities in the inland and along the coast," Zong, the founder, chairman and CEO of the Hangzhou Wahaha Group, said. "We may also grab a pie from first-tier cities with our malls' 'distinguished characteristics.'"

There is, however, no timetable for the share sale.

Zong said Wahaha will use its funds, human resources, and sales channels to help foreign brands tap the mainland market, and his malls will also feature children's products, entertainment venues, and gyms.

Zong, who opened his first mall in Qianjiang City, Zhejiang Province, in November last year, said he has now grown from a retail rookie to an expert on the department store sector.

Wahaha Group is China's third largest drinks firm with a market share of 7.3 percent, according to Euromonitor International. The biggest is Coca-Cola Co, followed by Hong Kong-listed Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding.

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