Lianhua to open Belgian subsidiary
SHANGHAI: Lianhua Holdings is poised to venture outside its native China for the first time. It plans to open a subsidiary, Shanghai Lianhua (Europe), in Belgium, which will pave the way for a Europe-wide chain. "We've got official approval already," said a spokesman. "Our next step is to set up Lianhua stores in Europe but we haven't set any timetable yet." Lianhua debuted on the Hong Kong stock exchange late last month. Its shares rose 9.7% to HK$4.25 (27p) from its offer price of HK$3.875 (25p) on June 28, the day after its initial public offering.

Wal-Mart commits to local produce
BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS: Wal-Mart has said it will source more local fruit and vegetables to keep produce prices down. Partnerships with local farmers had increased by 50% over the past two years, said Wal-Mart. "Offering local produce has been a Wal-Mart priority for years, and we're taking it to a new level with a pledge to grow our partnerships with local farmers," said Pam Kohn, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for grocery.

Spar International growing in China
AMSTERDAM: Spar International claims the worldwide economic downturn has not affected expansion plans as it continues to grow its base in the emerging markets of China, India and Russia. Its Chinese operation had enjoyed strong growth in 2007, it claimed. "At the end of 2007, we had 46 stores and 150,000 sq m of sales area," said Gordon Campbell, managing director of Spar International. "The target for 2008 is 80 stores and a retail sales area of 250,000 sq m."

Nakheel and Auchan join forces
DUBAI: Gulf-based retailer Nakheel has signed a joint venture with French retailer Auchan to open supermarkets and hypermarkets across the region. The new joint venture company, HyperCorp, will be a division of Nakheel Retail. "We are extremely pleased to have signed a JV with the Auchan Group as we consider they have the best trading platform for our market. We will open 15 hypermarkets and 40 supermarkets across the Gulf in the coming 10 years and will expand into other quality developers' projects as well as our own," said Graham Dreverman, group managing director of Nakheel Retail.

Unilever Tea Kenya in share offer
NAIROBI: Brooke Bond Group has said it intends to buy the minority of shares that it does not already own in Unilever Tea Kenya (UTKL) for 356.5m Kenyan shillings (£2.74m). UK-based Brooke Bond currently holds 88.24% in the company, which has vast tea estates in Kenya's Rift Valley region, and is seeking to buy the remaining 11.76%, or 5.75m ordinary shares, at 62 shillings each. "The board of directors of Unilever Tea Kenya have received notice of intention in respect of the proposed acquisition of the entire shareholding of UTKL," it said in a statement.