(Dec 26): Even as global consumer brands grow more dependent on Asia for sales of everything from fancy handbags to baby formula, European retailers keep retreating from the world’s fastest-growing markets.
The UK’s Tesco, which said this month that it’s weighing a sale of its Thailand and Malaysia operations, is just the latest. Earlier this year, Germany’s Metro and France’s Carrefour offloaded their big-box stores in China. Britain’s Marks & Spencer Group beat them to the exit by completing a regional pullback last year.
The retrenchment, which reverses a two-decade expansion, contrasts with continuing growth for European luxury companies including LVMH and Kering, which have ridden a wave of demand for Louis Vuitton bags and Gucci fashions in China. While producers of mainstream goods such as baby formula makers Danone and Reckitt Benckiser Group have reported hiccups in China, they’re also increasingly reliant on Asia.