Partnership of retail giants targets China's northwest with imported seafood

Published on
February 14, 2019

A new venture between a retailing giant and a tech-focused retail brand is targeting once-remote northwest China with high-end imported seafood.

“Mo Er Xian Sheng” is a tie-up between one of China’s largest retailers, the Beijing Hualian Group, and Jiangsu Mo Er Commerce Management Co. (part of the Jiangsu Overseas Group Corp, which has a large international trading business).

The first Mo Er Xian Sheng store opened in Zhong Fa Yuan Shi Dai plaza, a mall in the Chengdong district of Xining. The outlet is actually inside a Hualian supermarket, but operates independently. Its offerings include Norwegian salmon, imported turbot and grouper, “French silver cod,” Argentine red shrimp, Vietnamese mantis, and Australian abalone and lobsters. 

In a statement, Mo Er – which touts its specialty as "integration of offline and online retail” – announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Hualian to set up in each of the latter’s 35 stores in northwestern China, a region hitherto seen as a remote and less economically vibrant compared to the wealthy east coast regions. China’s recent policy of allowing regional airports and ports handle food imports means easier access for imports across the country. 

Mo Er’s state-run parent company has built up a major meat importing business, with sourcing arms in Australia, and Russia, and Western Europe, making it a potent player in any retail partnership. 

Hualian’s presence in the region gives it an advantage over retailers established or backed by China’s e-commerce giants, like Alibaba-controlled Hema Xiansheng. Hema and its cohort have posed a challenge to the old-guard retailers like Hualian, which is a state-owned company that – though it operates an upmarket chain called BHG in major cities – lacks the data-collection prowess and online firepower of firms like Alibaba.  

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