H&M debuts in China with Kylie

And other news in Greater China

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SHANGHAI--Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) is the latest global fashion chain to set up shop in China. The Swedish clothing retailer opened its first store in the mainland on April 12 in Shanghai’s trendy Lu Wan shopping district.

H&M promoted the opening of the four-story flagship store on Huai Hai Road with a launch party on April 11 featuring Kylie Minogue, who made her first performance in China at Shanghai’s glass-domed Science Museum. The Australian pop star is the namesake of the retailer’s new “H&M Loves Kylie” beachwear collection.

Motorola cultivates star power with pop icon action figures
BEIJING--Motorola Corp. has employed an old-fashioned technique to market its latest handsets in a high-tech market. The U.S. company has partnered with toy designer Eric So to create limited-edition action figures of two Motorola brand ambassadors in Greater China, Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou and Xun Zhou, a Chinese actress and singer. Mr. So is well known in Asia for earlier figures of other Chinese stars like Bruce Lee and Chow Yun Fat.

The action figures of both pop icons are only available with purchase of Motorola handsets in China. The Jay Chou figure, featuring his signature smile, is sold with the Motorokr E6 music-enabled phone, while the Xun Zhou doll comes with the sleek Motokrzr model. Both figures are 12" tall with fully movable joints and removable head-to-toe outfits. The miniature fire red Motokrzr phone that comes with Ms. Xun’s doll, whose dress is based on her character in last year’s Chinese film epic, “The Banquet,” even opens and closes.

NBA changes beverage alliance in China to Gatorade from Red Bull
SHANGHAI--Pepsi-Cola has extended its 23-year partnership between its Gatorade sports drink and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the U.S. to China for the first time. Previously, the NBA's beverage partner in China was the energy drink Red Bull, which started in Thailand. Pepsi will launch a collectible drink pack in China this month with Gatorade packaging that features NBA legends such as Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter.

Gatorade will be the title sponsor for NBA's JamVan this year, a road show that will travel to 25 cities in China, according to Clarence Mak, Pepsi's Gatorade marketing director in Shanghai. The NBA and Gatorade are also developing basketball-related reality programming for "NBA Zhi Zao" (Made in the NBA), a weekly basketball and lifestyle show that airs on 43 channels in China.

Anheuser-Busch to build a brewery in Guangdong
FOSHAN--Anheuser-Busch will build a brewery in Foshan, a city in central Guangdong province in southern China, to expand its Budweiser and Harbin premium brands in China. Beer sales in the mainland grew nearly 15% in 2006, the third consecutive year of double-digit volume growth.

The new production facility, the Budweiser Brewing Foshan Co., will allow Anheuser-Busch to double the distribution of Budweiser over the next five years and introduce its flagship brand to an additional 100 tier-three cities with a population of at least one million. Expansion into the new cities will make Budweiser available to an additional 150 million potential beer drinkers.

Scheduled for completion in late 2008, the $63 million Foshan brewery will be built on a 249,000 square-meter site and will have a production capacity of 2.6 million hectoliters.

Anheuser-Busch also plans to introduce Harbin premium brands to 33 new markets in 2007, well beyond northeastern China, where the brand originated. Anheuser-Busch acquired Harbin Brewery in 2004, following a high-profile bidding war with arch-rival SABMiller. The brand controls more than half of total beer sales in its home market, an industrial region with the highest per capita consumption of beer in China. In 1995, Anheuser-Busch established its first brewing facility in China in Wuhan.

“As the largest-volume and fastest-growing beer market in the world, China remains one of our most important international priorities,” said the company’s president and CEO in St. Louis, August Busch, in a company statement. “The Foshan brewery allows us to increase the availability of Budweiser and Harbin premium brands in China where the premium and super-premium beer categories are growing faster than the rest of the industry and have tremendous long-term potential.”

Shanghai GM attracts Chinese elites with Buick Park Avenue
SHANGHAI--Shanghai GM, the joint venture formed by General Motors Corp. and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., has introduced the Park Avenue, a new model in its Buick lineup. Existing models produced under the Buick name such as the Excelle, Sail, Regal and LaCrosse have become popular among business leaders in China since locally made Buicks were introduced in the mainland in 1999.

The luxury sedan was “designed especially for business leaders and other elites, it is a component of our effort to maintain our leadership position in China by addressing the needs of all of our customers,” said Shanghai GM President Ding Lei.

The launch campaign was created by Bates Asia in Shanghai. The car’s sticker price ranges from $64,600 for the 3.6-liter Flagship version to $42,600 for the 2.8-liter Comfort variant. The Park Avenue model will compete against other high-end sedans popular among business leaders in China like Toyota's Crown, the Chrysler 300C and Audi.

Besides Buick, Shanghai GM produces Chevrolet and Cadillac cars for the Chinese market. The company was the top-selling carmaker in China last year, selling 413,367 cars, up 23% from 2005.

China Film Group partners with Hollywood's Crest Digital
LOS ANGELES--China Film Group, the largest state-owned media company in China, has formed a joint venture with Crest Digital, a Hollywood-based digital media services company, to deliver home entertainment and technology software content via multiple digital platforms to consumers in the mainland.

China Film Group is a critical component for Hollywood and foreign content owners seeking distribution of their valuable entertainment optical software and intellectual property in China,” said Crest’s chief operating officer, Eric Loong in Los Angeles.

The partnership will focus on developing emerging digital content delivery technologies such as the internet, mobile phones, video-on-demand and internet protocol TV (IPTV), including the creation of a DVD and CD manufacturing facility in Beijing. The companies plan additional ventures including one focused on CD & DVD anti-counterfeiting technology.
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