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Sun Art Plans China Store Expansion as First-Half Profit Rises

Sun Art Retail Group Ltd., China’s largest hypermarket operator, said it expects to add as many as 55 stores in China this year, continuing its expansion even as the Chinese economy slows.

The Shanghai-based venture between Taiwan’s RT-Mart and France’s Groupe Auchan SA expects to open a total 45 to 55 stores in China this year, Nelson Hsu, the chief financial officer of RT-Mart China, told reporters in Hong Kong today. Eleven of those stores have already been added.

Sun Art has steadily increased China profits by opening new outlets and tailoring its offerings to local tastes. It yesterday reported a 15 percent increase in net income to 1.58 billion yuan ($258 million) in the first half, higher than the average estimate of 1.56 billion yuan from three analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

China’s economy expanded 7.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the second straight deceleration.

“China economy will grow about 7.5 percent this year and we anticipate we’ll be in line with that growth,” Chief Executive Officer Bruno Mercier said at the press conference. He declined to comment on any possible impact from the slowing Chinese economy.

Sun Art had 284 hypermarkets in China as of 30 June, the company said in its statement yesterday. Sun Art is the biggest big-box retailer in China with 14 percent share of the hypermarket industry last year, according to Euromonitor International. China Resources Enterprise Ltd. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are tied for second place in the country each with a 11 percent share.

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