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Business trends

Modern Vietnam's economy: The rise of the retail chain

Zara, Circle K edge out communist country's family shophouses

A super market in Hanoi and a Zara outlet in Ho Chi Minh City: Retail chains and brand names are quickly winning over shoppers in Vietnam. (Source photos by Ken Kobayashi and Kazumi Saito)

HO CHI MINH CITY -- The yoga students have to walk past blue-and-green iguanas and jars of hummus at the entry to get to Hanna Nguyen's home studio. Nguyen started offering workout classes by converting the ground level of her house into a business, while the family lives upstairs. Vietnamese have done this for centuries -- work on one floor, sleep on another -- but the 21st century has brought new competition: retail chains.

Nguyen competes with Elite Fitness, California Fitness and Yoga and other big gym brands that were almost nonexistent a decade ago.

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