Dairy Farm International has won approval from the Chinese authorities for a new joint venture which should pave the way for expansion of its 7-Eleven franchise in southern China. The pan-Asian retailer has been given the go-ahead for a joint venture with Guangdong Sinogiant in which it will hold a 65% stake. This will allow it to develop 350 stores in Guangdong, according to the company, although negotiations for licence arrangements are still being concluded. Revealing its interim results for the six months ending June 30, it also said sales and profits in its south Asian businesses were up 20% and 34% respectively, with growth being driven by its Giant chain in Malaysia. Overall the group achieved a pre-tax loss of $7.4m for the six month period, compared with a $42.9m loss for the same period last year, on sales of $2.6bn. One hypermarket opened during the first half of 2001, taking the total to three, and 10 supermarkets, and a further seven hypermarkets are planned within 18 months. In Australia, the company said it had now sold 156 of its 287 Franklins stores, after its decision in April to exit the Australian market, and it has accepted offers from independent retailers for 70 additional stores. {{NEWS }}