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Yonghui Superstores tries boutique store approach

In the face of fierce online competition, Yonghui Superstores has continued innovating and has just launched Super Species, a smaller-size supermarket store format.

Known for its 5000 sqm hypermarkets, the company has introduced its boutique approach in its home city of Fuzhou in Fujian province. The 500 sqm stores target middle-class consumers who like to combine shopping with dining.

Customers can choose their favourite foods, such as salmon or prime beef, for cooking in store. They can also choose an accompanying wine at the store.

“Up to 50 Super Species stores are scheduled to open this year,” says Super Species partner Lin Chuangyan. “The ultimate goal is to introduce consumers who come into the store to our online platform.”

These niche outlets are just the latest innovation by Yonghui Superstores. In 2015, the retailer launched its YH Member Experience brand outlet in Shanghai. So far it has opened more than 30, but the initial aim had been to roll out 800 outlets in the city by next year.

Defined as a mid- to high-level community supermarket, the stores covered just 200 sqm and featured fresh products and imported goods. Consumers living nearby could shop online with the added attraction of a delivery service.

In May, another brand was launched by the company, YH Life. It first popped up in the financial hub of Shanghai. Like a small convenience shop, it sells mainly cigarettes, ice cream, semi-finished food products and fresh food. Online services are also available, including delivery.

The move has proved a hit.

Yonghui Superstores’ operational income in the first quarter reached RMB15.3 billion (US$2.3 billion), a jump of 13.8 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Its traditional retail chain has nearly 500 stores, with another 200 to open this year. The company employs more than 70,000 people.

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