The Suning Holdings Group, the second-largest private company in China and a major omni-channel retailer operating in various sectors, has signed a franchising agreement with Intersport International Corp. (IIC) for several provinces and municipalities in China. The company plans to open a first Intersport store in Nanjing in the coming months. Together with the roll-out of additional doors by IIC's three other existing franchisees in the country, the number of physical Intersport stores in China is now expected to rise to around 40 locations, up from 27 at the present time, accompanied by various online operations.

Suning, which started in 1990 as the largest omni-channel retailer in China, specializing in consumer electronics, is a conglomerate with an annual turnover of more than $65 billion. It currently operates a total of 12,871 stores for various product categories, including books and cosmetics, in more than 600 cities. With 407,627 members, its e-commerce platform, Suning.com, is rated as one of the top three Chinese B2C internet operations.

Suning is also a shareholder of Alibaba, whose Tmall platform became a partner of Intersport last year with a sophisticated omni-channel solution in Beijing. Conversely, Alibaba owns shares in Suning, which employs some 10,000 people in its own IT department alone and 25,000 across all its operations.

Furthermore, Suning has invested heavily in the sports business lately. Based in Nanjing, the big city in the province of Jiangsu, in 2016 it bought a local football club, which has been renamed the Jiangsu Suning Football Club, as well as a controlling stake in the important Inter football club in Milan. A subsidiary of Suning, a sports media platform called PP Sports, has exclusive rights in China for Europe's “Big Five” football leagues: the Premier English League, La Liga in Spain, the Ligue 1 in France and the Seria A in Italy.

IIC has been operating in China since 2013. It has three other franchising partners for other provinces: New Huadu, Lianyungant Tianma Network Development and Aokang International. As previously reported (SGI Europe Vol. 29 N° 19+20 of July 6, 2018), last year it launched a Tmall X Intersport Megastore in Quianmen, the historic tourist area of Beijing, making use of Alibaba's New Retail Technologies solution.