Retail sales rose by 18 per cent in China last year so therefore all Western companies need to do is open up in Shanghai, the richest bit of the vast country, and customers will automatically follow.
Mattel is closing its six-storey pink debut store in Shanghai after just two years after failing to persuade the locals that what they really need to be proper Western-style consumers is a Western-style doll for their one child. Other US retailers including Home Depot and Best Buy have also struggled to make an impact in China.
The Brits have done rather better; Tesco is expanding gradually, clearly enjoying the space available by concentrating on building whole shopping malls with a Tesco hypermarket at their centre.
Now Marks & Spencer boss Mark Bolland has announced that it is to open its fifth store in the city, a whopper at 3,700 square metres, only slightly smaller than its 3,900 sqm flagship in West Nanjing Road, opened in 2008.
M&S is a lot more useful than Barbie of course.
Mattel says the store has served its purpose as it’s “achieved brand awareness” for Barbie in China.
And they clearly don’t like it.