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Best Buy opens first outlet in China

Pedestrians walk past Best Buy's Shanghai store yesterday. (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)

SHANGHAI -- Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy is opening its first outlet in China, teaming up with a local partner to tackle the hypercompetitive market for gadgets and appliances.

Best Buy, the number one US consumer electronics retailer, is one of scores of foreign retailers taking advantage of a lifting of limits on foreign competition to try to woo consumers in the world's biggest potential market.

The company joined with local electronics chain Jiangsu Five Star Appliance Co., China's 14th biggest appliance retailer, to open the store in Shanghai's busy Xujiahui shopping district.

In a so-called "soft opening," the store opens its doors to regular customers tomorrow. Yesterday, it invited journalists for a preview of its 80,000 square feet outlet -- the company's biggest store anywhere and its first outside North America.

Chinese consumers are spoiled for choice, facing a bewildering array of products in almost every area. But appliance outlets are often dingy, smoke-filled malls with dusty displays crammed with substandard products. And free installation is hard to come by.

Best Buy says it intends to win over finicky Chinese customers with clean, pleasant outlets and helpful, dependable service.

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