ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Retail

Debt-laden Suning taps Alibaba supermarket boss as next chair

Inter Milan soccer club owner seeks know-how to fix struggling retail business

Employees scan parcels at a Suning.com facility. The company's retail business has struggled amid the pandemic.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- Suning.com has named the former head of an Alibaba Group Holding-owned supermarket chain as its new chairman after founder Zhang Jindong stepped down from the helm of the troubled Chinese retail group.

Peter Huang Ming-tuan, now a director at Sun Art Retail Group, replaces interim Chairman Ren Jun, a longtime Suning executive. Zhang stays on as honorary chairman.

With the appointment announced this week, Suning hopes to strengthen its partnership with Alibaba -- a major shareholder in the company -- as it tries to turn around its struggling retail operations.

Sun Art, where Huang served as CEO until May, operates about 500 hypermarkets in China under brands including RT-Mart. Sun Art kept up strong results during the pandemic thanks partly to an e-commerce partnership with Alibaba.

Zhang remains in effect Suning's top shareholder with a 21.74% stake through direct and indirect holdings. Alibaba, which bought into Suning in 2016, owns 19.99% of the company.

Suning got its start as an electronics retailer before broadening its scope with such moves as its 2019 acquisition of the Chinese supermarket business of France's Carrefour Group. The group now includes Japanese duty-free store operator Laox and storied Italian soccer club Inter Milan.

But the rapid growth of unprofitable stores, coupled with a pandemic-inflicted slump, has sent its earnings into a nosedive. Zhang and other shareholders recently reached a deal to sell some of their Suning shares, raising 8.8 billion yuan ($1.36 billion) from a government-led fund.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more