Retail in Asia

In Shops

What slowdown? China textile, retail pioneer Kenneth Fang still sees growth

Hong Kong’s Kenneth Fang knows first-hand about the returns to be that can be earned from taking care of China’s consumers. Fang and two brothers founded hypermarket Times Ltd. in the mainland in 1998, expanded the chain to 65 stores mostly in prosperous Jiangsu Province, and then sold the business to Lotte Shopping of South Korea for USD630 million in 2009. The brothers owned 72 percent of the company at the time, pocketing more than USD450 million. "It needed more capital and time than I have," he said in a recent interview.

But Kenneth, now in his early 70s, and the rest of his clan aren’t living off that success. Nor are they daunted by China’s recently slower economic growth and rising labour costs that have made the business landscape in the country more difficult. "People have purchasing power, especially in luxury products," Fang says. 

China today is "truly where Japan was in an earlier stage of its development", before Japan itself became a big market for consumer goods, he believes. "I don’t care about" about the recent projections for slower  economic growth in the country," he says firmly. Fang is still an optimist about China.

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