Carrefour, Chinese tech giant Tencent form alliance

BEIJING — Carrefour and Chinese tech giant Tencent announced an alliance in China on Tuesday, joining a rush of companies trying to link the strengths of online and offline retailing.

The companies said they want to combine Carrefour's global retail experience and the technology strengths of Tencent, which operates the popular WeChat social media platform and other services. They said they would cooperate on smart retail, mobile payment and data analysis to boost Carrefour China's customer traffic.

They join a flurry of ventures by retailers including Amazon.com and China's Alibaba and JD.com aimed at combining the strengths of online and offline retailing.

"Carrefour will improve its online visibility, increase the traffic of its offline and online retail activities and benefit from Tencent's advanced digital and technological expertise to develop new smart retail initiatives," the companies said in a statement.

E-commerce is growing with explosive speed in China, putting traditional retailers on the defensive. Online sales accounted for about 20 percent of Chinese retail spending last year but grew 32.2 percent compared with 2016 while overall retail rose 10.2 percent.

Tencent and Yonghui, a Chinese supermarket operator in which Tencent is buying a stake, are consider a "potential investment" in Carrefour's China unit, the companies said. They gave no financial details.

"The potential investment will leverage Carrefour's global retail knowledge with Tencent's technological excellence and Yonghui's operational knowhow and in particular its deep knowledge of fresh products," their statement said.

Carrefour SA, headquartered in suburban Paris, operates 12,000 stores and e-commerce sites in more than 30 countries.

Tencent Holding Ltd., China's biggest technology company by stock market valuation, also operates entertainment, online payment, artificial intelligence and cloud services.

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