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Costco makes China debut through Alibaba
The Issaquah, Washington-based company has opened a store on T-Mall, an online marketplace Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba operates alongside the Taobao bazaar. The store, where consumers can buy Costco baby care goods, beauty items, dietary supplement as well as household products, will mail purchases directly from the U.S. to consumer doorsteps, a process that takes five to 20 days, according to the store website.
Costco is betting on China’s growing appetite for imported and quality food to generate a fresh wave of sales. The country’s urban residents are increasingly turning to imported food as food safety woes- such as melamine-tainted infant milk formula and rat meat disguised as lamb- hit the country time and again.
“Costco sees tremendous growth opportunities in China, especially in light of Chinese consumers’ increasing appetite for imported products,” Jim Murphy, Costco’s executive vice president, said in a statement.
Costco's T-Mall store
Costco’s T-Mall store
The chain, which operates 664 warehouses worldwide, will be facing tough rivals in China. Yhd.com, an online supermarket where Wal-Mart has a 51% stake, plans to sell more imported food on top of the 250 million imported items it sold in 2013. The Wal-Mart owned Sam’s club, is also expanding in China, where it currently operates 10 brick-and-mortar stores.
Costco didn’t say whether it will launch a physical store in China. The firm will analyse consumer data provided by Alibaba and offer selected products at “highly attractive” prices, according to the statement.
Costco announced a net income of 697 million in the fourth quarter from $617 million a year earlier. Net income in the fiscal year ended on August 31 reached $2.06 billion, up from $2.04 billion last year.
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