Liquor maker renews effort to go global as outlet opens in Hainan

By YUAN SHENGGAO (China Daily)

The Haikou International Duty-Free City Shopping Complex — the world's largest stand-alone duty-free facility — became operational on Oct 28 in Haikou, the capital city of the island province of Hainan in South China.

Among the outlets in the mall with a total floor space of 280,000 square meters is Xinghuacun Fenjiu Group, a renowned white liquor producer in Shanxi province. It is one of the most eye-catching in the mall.

The outlet is decorated with elements of traditional Chinese culture, aiming to arouse the interest of customers about the culture and history related to this time-honored and maybe oldest Chinese white liquor brand, according to the company.

Xinghuacun Fenjiu was among the first batch of liquor brands to begin operations at the Haikou duty-free mall. It was the first among the liquor brands to record a transaction on the opening day, the company said.

The company's executives said Xinghuacun Fenjiu expects to use the outlet as a gateway to reach more overseas customers and dealers.

As Hainan is stepping up its efforts to build itself into an international free trade port, the opening of the duty-free shopping mall is a signature event, Hainan Governor Feng Fei said at the opening ceremony. "Offshore duty-free shopping has become one of the great calling cards of Hainan's tourism sector."

Over the past few years, about one in two travelers — either from China or overseas — to the tropical island visited duty-free shops and one in six purchased offshore duty-free goods, said Feng.

An expected boom in the duty-free tourism industry after the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will serve as another effective means to help Xinghuacun Fenjiu go global, according to the company's executives.

The company began to step up its globalization move at the beginning of this century, especially after China's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. Its high-end white liquor varieties were sold to South Korea in 2007, marking a milestone in its globalization.

It opened its first overseas sales outlet in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, in 2013.

To date, white liquor products made by Xinghuacun Fenjiu have been sold to foreign markets through its 50-plus dealers. They are available in more than 9,000 overseas outlets, including 180-plus duty-free shops, the company's executives said.

Li Shu contributed to this story.