Western retail giants are stepping up their plans to expand into China as they seek to take advantage of the booming local economy.
Apple and Zara owner Inditex will open a slew of stores in China in the coming months, while French supermarket giant Carrefour is considering a stock market listing for its Chinese unit.
California-based Apple plans to open five stores in the country before the Chinese New Year on February 19, taking its total number of stores there to 20.
Apple will open one of the outlets in the Zhengzhou region, were manufacturer Foxconn produces 70% of the world’s iPhones.
Apple senior vice-president of retail and former Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts told Chinese internet company NetEase she had visited China four times since joining Apple seven months ago.
Ahrendts claimed Apple’s China online store is the company’s fastest-growing ecommerce site after sales surged 80% in 2014 year-on-year.
Meanwhile Inditex plans to open its 500th store in China this year. It already has 469 stores in the country, 157 of which are part of its Zara fascia.
Inditex president Pablo Isla laid out the company’s commitment to China during a tour that involved a meeting with Mayor of Beijing Wang Anshun.
The retail group opened its first store in Beijing in 2007 and now has 40 stores in the city under the Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka , Stradivarius and Oysho brands.
Carrefour chief executive Georges Plassat hinted in an interview with Les Echos that a stock market listing could be on the cards for its Chinese business.
Plassat said Carrefour could follow a similar path in China as in Brazil, where it floated its local division separately and has since sold a 10% stake in the company.
Plassat believes China has huge potential for Carrefour and predicts the middle class will grow from 230 million people to 630 million within 10 years.