Chinese department stores are seeking to sell Georgia brands to their domestic consumers, according to Wan He Zheng, chairman of China’s largest department store based in Beijing, who toured Atlanta’s AmericasMart last week.

China is not simply a manufacturing source for consumer goods to be exported to the United States. It is increasingly becoming a consumer market for U.S. merchandise, said Mr. Zheng, who heads up Wangfujing Department Store (Group) Co. Ltd. The store saw 20 percent growth in sales last year, he said.

“Chinese consumers are shopping more for consumer goods, but they are still not satisfied with [the products] they find in China, so they go to foreign countries for shopping,” he said through a translator. “Now Chinese people want to shop in China for brands and products they want.”

This consumer demand for U.S. products prompted Mr. Zheng and two other Wangfujing executives to visit Atlanta for the first time to tour AmericasMart to find U.S. brands they can sell in their department store.

U.S. brands, although desired by Chinese consumers, have been slow to enter the Chinese market because of difficulty with the merchandising process, Mr. Zheng said. Wangfujing stores could help U.S. manufacturers of consumer goods export to China, he said.

“Our efforts are beneficial because [bringing U.S. products to China] is good for U.S. manufacturers, for Chinese consumers and for trade between the governments of our two countries,” Mr. Zheng said.

He added that many U.S. companies fail in China because they do not have the right partner. Wangfujing would be a strong partner for Georgia companies to sell directly to China, cutting out the “middle agent,” he said.

The Wangfujing chain is comprised of 15 stores throughout mainland China that together have 20 million square feet of retail space. One store can see some 150,000 people a day and 300,000 during holidays, Mr. Zheng said.

Because Atlanta’s malls have much less traffic, Wangfujing is not interested in opening a retail store here, but it is interested in partnering with Atlanta suppliers of U.S. merchandise, from clothing to housewares to cosmetics, Mr. Zheng said.

The Chinese store’s executive director and president, Bing Liu, noted that sales of U.S.-brand cosmetics such as Estee Lauder products have skyrocketed, growing at a rate of 50 percent annually in China.

The 50-year-old Wangfujing has some 40,000 employees and around $10 billion in annual sales, said Mr. Zheng, who has been with the store for 21 years.

Mr. Zhang, Ms. Liu and Yulan Liu, the store’s director and chief financial controller, visit merchandise shows in Chicago, Miami, New York or other U.S. cities each year to learn about American products. They came to Atlanta for the first time last week at the suggestion of Atlanta-based Heritage Capital Advisors LLC, a business consulting firm that has a partner, Francois Shih, in Shanghai. Mr. Shih has been in contact with Wangfujing since 1985 and is on the board of directors of Atlanta’s Friendship Force.

To contact Wangfujing about merchandise sales, contact Heritage Capital President John Ray or Alicia Willen at (404) 419-0100 or visit for more information.