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Foreign firms grasp festive opportunities
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-06 06:19

CHENGDU: As Chinese people celebrate their most important traditional festival, more foreign-funded companies across the country are taking full advantage of the opportunity to appeal to the nation's huge consumption power.

Dragon dances, a traditional Chinese Spring Festival performance, attracted many people to the front of a Japanese-invested department store in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Decorated in conformity with traditional Chinese custom, the Chengdu outlet of Ito-Yokado Ltd handed out the propitious food of "niangao" and dog-shaped decorations to customers for the arrival of the Lunar New Year, which this year ushered in the Year of the Dog.

"We began to work out sales strategy and promotional activities for the consumption peak four months ago," said Nobutaka Shiroki, general manager of the Japanese chain store.

"Our efforts have paid off, as turnover in past week is almost five times that of usual," said Shiroki, who has experienced nine Spring Festival shopping rushes in China.

For Shiroki, Spring Festival is always the busiest period of the year. However, this year he was able to get valuable commercial information for the next year's sales in advance.

Chinese Spring Festival is "vigorous, traditional and busy," said Shiroki, who is learning Chinese culture and customs both from books and his employees, to better get involved in the Chinese economy.

Elsewhere, the peak flow of Chinese people either on the move for family reunions or travelling, has produced great business opportunities, said Peter Ho, manager of a Carrefour store in Chongqing Municipality.

"We should seize the opportunity to create profits," said Ho, who did not have a day off in the past week.

The Chengdu-based Kempinski Hotel failed to win customers in previous Spring Festivals without promotional measures, according to Liu Yanli, manager of public relations.

"This year, we offered festival banquets, decorated the hotel in the traditionally Chinese way, and offered gifts to customers. All these have been quite effective," said Liu.

More than 500,000 foreign-funded companies are operating across China, and US$60.3 billion in direct foreign investment was channelled in last year, official statistics show.

Fierce competition has pushed foreign investors to live in harmony with the Chinese culture and economy, and grasp every chance to increase business share in the huge market, experts say.

"Adjusting ourselves to the Spring Festival economy will enhance not only sales, but also the image of foreign companies among Chinese customers," said Hillary Zhou, public relations department supervisor with Sichuan-based McDonald's Restaurants Food Co Ltd.

(China Daily 02/06/2006 page2)

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