Alibaba’s Hema supermarket is known for its fresh produce, including seafood. Alibaba wants Hema to go public.

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Alibaba’s Grocery unit Hema has expanded the number of brick-and-mortar stores in China as it prepares to spin off from its parent company and go public, the company said on Friday.

Hema Xiansheng plans to open 12 new stores in major cities in mainland China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Grocery has become a battleground for Alibaba and Alibaba, China’s two largest e-commerce companies. Jingdong.

Last week, JD.com created a new business unit to house its grocery business 7Fresh and appointed a company veteran to lead it.

Alibaba-owned Freshippo is trying to combine the company’s strengths in e-commerce and logistics with a more traditional shopping experience. Users can order online and get their groceries delivered to their door, but can also visit brick-and-mortar stores known for fresh produce like lobster.

The expansion comes three months after Alibaba split it into six separate business units in an effort to return the company to growth. These units can raise external funding and go public.

However, Hema Xiansheng is an independent business under Alibaba, not one of the six major business groups. Last month, Alibaba approved an initial public offering of Hema Xiansheng, but did not give a timetable.

Hema has more than 300 stores across 27 cities in China.

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