French brand seizes business opportunities in China amid closer ties

By Zhang Hongpei Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/7 22:03:40

French brand seizes business opportunities

A view of the interior of Beijing Maxim's restaurant on Thursday Photo: Zhang Hongpei/GT

Amid increasingly closer China-France ties following the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron at the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) and a state visit to China from Monday to Wednesday, French companies have high hopes that their businesses will gain a firmer foothold in the flourishing Chinese market.

"We have to keep pace with China's consumption market, which changes very fast," Zheng Siti, chief representative of Maxim's De Paris in China, told the Global Times on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of Maxim's-Lyon Food Festival on Thursday.

The first overseas outlet of France's Maxim's De Paris - Beijing Maxim's - made its official debut in 1983 at Beijing's Chongwenmen Hotel, an affiliate of state-owned Beijing Tourism Group.

The restaurant "has witnessed China's reform and opening-up as well as the development of China-France relations over the decades. The Beijing outlet is often called the second 'French Embassy' in China," Zheng said.

For the traditional French catering brand, Maxim's plans to launch mini- Maxim's restaurants in China in the next few years to attract more young consumers.

Currently, the French brand has two outlets in China located in Beijing and North China's Tianjin Municipality. 

"The mini-Maxim's outlets will have the same look as the traditional ones but cost less," said Zheng.

It costs about 500 yuan ($71.71) per person to dine at Beijing's Maxim's, but for the mini-Maxim's outlets, the cost will be halved, she said. The new ones will not only offer pure French dishes but also cuisine from other countries to make it more appealing to young consumers.

"The strong and closer economic ties between China and France have provided an opportunity for us that we can't miss," Zheng noted.

During Macron's visit this week, China and France signed 24 contracts worth a total of $15 billion, covering a wide range of industries, including aeronautics and civilian nuclear, and also came up with a roadmap to reach concrete results by next year, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

"The CIIE originated with a focus on economics and trade but it is far more than that. It represents the determination that China wants to expand exchanges with other countries and balance its trade," Zhao Jinjun, former Chinese ambassador to France, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"The change also shows that China has already adjusted its economic structure, reducing reliance on exports as an economic driver and paying more attention to expanding the domestic market as it has entered a new phase," said Zhao.

From this year's trade fair, it is seen that the areas that China-France cooperation and exchanges focus on have trended toward daily goods like beef and wine, while in the past years when high-technology projects in aviation, high-speed railways and nuclear played the dominant role, according to Zhao.

"The cooperative areas have been broader and deeper, which is a very good sign for the two countries to further strengthen bilateral ties," said Zhao.

Twenty French companies are expected to sell poultry, beef and pork to China, the most dynamic consumption market in the world, and President Macron also said that the Chinese people would follow Chinese President Xi Jinping's example by trying French wine and food.

Alain Galliano, vice president of Lyon Metropole in charge of international relations, told the Global Times on the sidelines of the opening ceremony that the CIIE has boosted French companies seeking business cooperation in the Chinese market, and the trend will go on in the coming years via the exhibition.

"The Chinese market has changed much, which is very interesting, and we want to export more and more Lyon food to important Chinese cities," he noted.

On Wednesday, China and France released an action plan to promote mutual trust, deal with climate change, support connectivity and encourage bilateral trade and investment, according to Xinhua.

Buon Tan, who was elected to the French National Assembly in 2017 and is considered a key French politician in terms of Macron's Asia strategies, told the Global Times that the plan shows that both countries are willing to take action and make things happen.

"An intense agenda has been set and all ministries are involved," Tan said.

Chen Qingqing also contributed to this story

Newspaper headline: French brand seizes business opportunities

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