Callcredit to help retailers develop in China

MAJOR retailers will soon be establishing operations in China, with help from the Yorkshire-based Callcredit Information Group.

Shanghai, China

The group’s retail location planning consultancy, GMAP, today announced that it had opened an office in Shanghai.

GMAP, which specialises in market analysis, has opened a Chinese office in response to retailer demand.

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Many big retailers are looking to open stores in China. Dozens of Chinese cities are developing their own retail quarters, and consumer tastes are becoming more sophisticated.

As a wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) GMAP will be able to conduct transactions in the official Chinese currency (Renminbi), which makes it easier for established retailers in China, and those looking to build a new presence in China, to work with GMAP.

Historically, companies looking to set up a base in China have been hampered by the shortage of reliable market data, which makes it much harder for them to decide whether it would be wise to take the plunge, and move into the Chinese market.

GMAP has developed a large database of international retailer locations, covering 120 major brands and more than 50,000 locations across 150 cities in China.

For each city, GMAP holds data from the 2010 census, which has been released by the Chinese census agency. It has also carried out extensive research from city year books.

The database has been coded to enable retail stores to be shown on a map. The data is shown in clusters around retail malls and shopping centres.

This level of detail allows retailers to identify where other international brands have established operations successfully.

The office will be managed by Kelly Meng-Wall, who has worked with GMAP in the UK.

Ms Meng-Wall has experience of managing a team of Chinese researchers, and detailed knowledge of the country’s retail sector.

A Callcredit spokesman said: “She has extensive experience of the Chinese retail market, and has a doctorate in Chinese business from The University of Leeds.

“Kelly will be expanding the existing network of researchers and retail aspects in Shanghai, while building the client base in China.”

Michael Jennings, the international business development Director at Callcredit, said yesterday: “GMAP already has a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region through our office in Tokyo.

“China is the second largest economy in the world, with eight out of the top 10 most active cities globally for new retail developments.”

He said GMAP had worked with a number of bluechip clients in China over the last five years.

Mr Jennings added: “There is a growing trend for major brands to open their own retail networks selling directly to the consumer. International retailers are keen to quantify the retail opportunities available and understand where the best locations are situated.

“Our rigorous and scientific approach to network planning ensures that we transform data into valuable insight, allowing retailers to evaluate existing retail networks, and find the right new locations.”

Mr Jennings highlighted the fact that there are 150 cities in China that are larger than Manchester. All of them are developing their retail presence, he said.

Initially, the GMAP Chinese office will have just one full-time member of staff, but it is hoped that the number of people employed there could grow to 10 to 15 within three years.

Leeds-based Callcredit Information Group saw its turnover and profits soar last year as banks, insurers and retailers invested in new ways to find out about their customers.

The Yorkshire-based company reported a 25 per cent rise in turnover to £114m and a 40 per cent rise in operating profits to £17.3m.

Callcredit has more than doubled in size since it was sold by Skipton Building Society to private equity firm Vitruvian Partners for a reputed £120m in 2009. Altogether, Callcredit employs around 900 people.