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New Asian Grocery Seeks Taste of ‘Hema’

iFresh officials say the new store was inspired by Alibaba group’s groundbreaking 'new retail' concepts
iFresh storefront
Photographs courtesy of iFresh

Asian grocer iFresh Inc. has opened a new location in Carle Place, N.Y., that the company says takes inspiration from Alibaba Group’s much-buzzed-about “New Retail” concepts—including foods prepared on-site and integrated online shopping as demonstrated in the Chinese retailer’s Hema/Freshippo stores.

The 23,000-square-foot iFresh location, the site of a former Golfsmith store, is located amid a hub of Asian restaurants near Long Island’s Roosevelt Field Mall. Long Island City, N.Y.-based iFresh operates 12 supermarkets on the East Coast along with wholesale and importing businesses focused mainly on Chinese shoppers.

The new store has engaged food management company Rainbow Tang Inc. to provide traditional Chinese dishes, noodles, pastries, fried foods, and baked goods in-store. Additionally, customers will be able to purchase fresh fish, meat and produce in the supermarket and have Rainbow Tang prepare a meal from the purchased food on premises—one of the offerings underpinning Alibaba Group’s “new retail” store formally known as Hema (now Freshippo) in China.

Alibaba Group is China’s largest internet retailer and is considered a world leader in integrating digital and physical store spaces.

“Inspired by the blistering success of Hema … the management team has decided to employ the ‘new retail’ innovative concept into our new store to offer customers the most convenient in-store experience in addition to the excellent quality of products at low prices,” Long Deng, chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “We are still at the early stage … but we believe this will bring a great business opportunity that emerges from online-offline integration to increase the customer flow and attract new customers.”

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Deng said the company expects the store to achieve sales of $13 million to $15 million in fiscal 2019.

iFresh is counting on new stores and new innovations to boost revenues. The company, which posted a loss of $6 million on sales of $59 million through the first half of fiscal 2018, said it would look to bring similar innovations to stores as part of a new strategic plan.

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