By Paul Nicholson
November 28 – Suning Sports, owners of China Super League club Jiangsu Suning and majority owners of Italy’s Internazionale, opened its flagship retail store in Nanjing’s Olympic Sports Centre. The store sell merchandise from both clubs and offers entertainment based experiences as well as retail.
Inter, who last week suffered the ignominy of being knocked out in the group stages of the Europa League, were represented at the opening by former players Javier Zanetti (a club vice president) and Francesco Toldo as well as corporate director Michael Williamson, and interim Inter CEO Jun Liu.
Jindong Zhang, Steven Zhang, Jun Ren, and Yang Yang welcomed the delegation on behalf of Suning.
The new store covers more than 700 square meters over two floors and is aimed at cultivating Nerazzurri fans as well as focusing on Jiangsu Suning supporters. The ground floor is dedicated to match kits and merchandise for both Jiangsu Suning and Inter, while the first floor features a café and various recreational areas where fans can watch matches on television.
Liu called the store “a shining light in the industry which will bring the two clubs and their fans even closer together.”
While Inter have been struggling both in Serie A and the Europa League this season, in contrast Jiangsu Suning have had a strong finish to their campaign though not perhaps not quite the champagne finish they had been hoping for.
Jaingsu played the second leg of the CFA Cup final having drawn the first leg against Guangzhou Evergrande TaoBai 1-1. Despite twice leading through their Brazilian striker Martinez, Guangzhou equalized in the 81st minute to win the final on away goals.
The CFA Cup Final loss is unlikely to deter the commitment of Suning to their football investments. They have already taken a firmer grip on Inter’s business and operations following the resignation this month of chief executive Michael Bolingbroke, following sacked coach Frank de Boer out of the club. Liu was brought in an interim capacity.
Inter was purchased by Indonesian entrepreneur Erick Thohir three years ago. Suning took control of 70% of Inter in June, with Thohir retaining 30%. Suning paid €280 million for their stake as part of an overhaul of the club that was expected to see them invest €750 million.
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