wants an IPO for Carrefour China — to fund growth or pay debts?

Business & Technology

Indebted Suning wants to independently IPO the retail chain it bought from French hyperstore giant Carrefour just 18 months ago.’s headquarters in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. When you’re a dot com, you’ve got to have a cool building. Reuters / Oriental Images.

The Chinese operator of French retail giant Carrefour’s China business is planning an independent IPO for the big-box store chain, according to Chinese Business Network (in Chinese). Tián Ruì 田睿, CEO of Carrefour China, said he could not set a timeline for the potential IPO, but the company is seeking out new strategic investors.

Carrefour China plans to upgrade and expand retail stores, develop business customers such as convenience stores, and expand grocery delivery services targeting young people living close to Carrefour supermarkets, according to Tian.

  • French multinational Carrefour S.A. entered the Chinese market in 1995 and became one of the leading retailers, but it has struggled since 2012 to match competition from ecommerce companies.
  • In 2019, Chinese retail giant and ecommerce platform Suning purchased an 80% stake in Carrefour China, promising to build out the chain’s internet operations.
  • Carrefour S.A. was not the only foreign retail chain to more or less give up on China (in Chinese): British supermarket chain Tesco sold its China operations to the China Resources conglomerate in 2014, and in 2018, Spain’s Dia also sold its China shops to Suning.

But maybe Suning just needs the cash to pay its debts? began life in 1990 as an air-conditioner store in Nanjing, and grew into one of China’s largest white goods store chains, listing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2004.

  • In 2018, two years after taking a strategic investment from Alibaba’s Taobao, Suning rebranded itself as, focusing on ecommerce operations.

Since then, breakneck expansion, which included buying a department store chain from Wanda Group, put the company into debt, despite a 14.8 billion ($2.3 billion) government-led bailout.

  • Suning and its subsidiaries currently owe more than 200 billion yuan ($30.7 billion) of debt in total with 16 billion yuan ($2.5 billion) due within one year.