(Yicai Global) March 22 -- Hema Fresh, a new retail platform under Chinese Internet giant Alibaba Group Holding, will launch four new sub-brands to expand its business scope to third- and fourth-tier Chinese cities, Hou Yi, the supermarket's chief executive disclosed yesterday.
Alibaba officially debuted its new retail supermarket brand Hema Fresh in 2017. It provides (uncooked) fresh food, catering and delivery services for nearby residents. The brand has opened 119 physical stores in 19 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou.
Hou plans to introduce new Hema Market formats called Hema Mini, Hema F2 and Hema Station to further expand the new retail platform's business. Hema F2 already appeared last year but the supermarket publicly disclosed news about the remaining three for the first time yesterday.
Judging from their positioning, Hema Market will be located in urban communities and in suburbs, while Hema Mini will be in suburbs, towns and counties. Hema F2 is more like a convenience store and will be sited in office buildings and shopping districts, while Hema Station will focus within urban regions and will supplement those areas beyond Hema Fresh's reach, Hou added.
The area of all these new formats is less than 1, 000 square meters. They are clearly different from Hema Fresh, whose extent usually ranges from 4, 000 to 6, 000 square meters. Each Hema Mini store is a mere 500 square meters. These new types of shops also have their own features in terms of choice and goods. For instance, Hema Market will not feature ready-to-eat food, which is Hema Fresh's biggest feature, and display vegetables and meat in unpackaged form instead, whereas Hema Mini will focus more on the live and iced seafood and introduce noodles, prepared foods and others that can be cooked and sold on site.
Hema Station will form the focus of the new retail brand's planning this year. It aims to achieve full coverage in Shanghai and Beijing, Hou noted, adding Hema never fights a price war, but it will invest a huge amount of money in the market this year to rapidly dominate this sector.
Hema Stations will open in Beijing by May. Hou has not announced how many shops will open thus far.
Editor: Ben Armour