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A leading Hong Kong-based retailer has partnered with e-commerce giant Alibaba to take international brands to mainland China through offline and online sales.

Fung Group announced plans on Tuesday to work with the mainland company to offer clients marketing and distribution services, among other things.

“There are so many brands worldwide hoping to enter the mainland market. But the question is how to set the foothold,” Fung Group chairman Victor Fung Kwok-king said.

“The partnership could merge the strengths of both parties and help customers navigate the Chinese retail economy.”

Speaking at a ceremony in Shanghai, Fung said the partnership was a key development for Fung Retailing, leveraging Hong Kong’s role as a gateway to China.

Fung, whose company manages a range of brands spanning 12 economies over 3,000 stores, said its management and marketing experience, as well as its shops, would create synergy with Alibaba’s digital retail business, which serves 600 million users.

Fung Retailing is a member of the Fung Group, which comprises major subsidiaries in trading, logistics and retailing. The Alibaba Group is the owner of the South China Morning Post.

Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s CEO, agreed that Fung Retailing’s Hong Kong background was an attraction.

“Hong Kong has been a hub, a gateway, connecting China to the world,” Zhang said. He added that he hoped the partnership would boost Hong Kong not only as a physical hub but also a digital one bringing foreign brands to China.

The partnership was announced at the China International Import Expo, running in Shanghai until Saturday. The companies intended to join forces in global brand recruitment and offer brands merchandising, marketing and online and offline distribution.

Speaking at a seminar at the expo on Tuesday morning, Fung highlighted Hong Kong’s gateway role in the context of the trade war between China and the US.

He said direct trade between the two countries could become indirect; companies could ship half-finished products made in China to Southern Asia and Africa for the last manufacturing step before selling to the US.

“Hong Kong companies could take up the linking role across the upstream, midstream and downstream and provide the supply chain management,” Fung said.

He encouraged local companies to use their international networks and explore partnerships with mainland manufacturers. (Source: South Morning China Post)