Alice Guilhon, Dean of SKEMA Business School, discusses the institution’s partnership with French retail giant Auchun.
SKEMA Business School, the largest business school in France, has entered into a new three-year strategic partnership with Auchan Retail China, the Chinese arm of the retail giant. The firm is a global market leader, strongly imprinted nationally and present in 226 towns across China, serving over half of the country’s population, or over 600mn.
Business is the spearhead of the Chinese economy and innovation is key for firms to remain competitive. Auchan Retail China and the Sun Art Retail Group are expanding in this high-density market, opening 30 or 40 ultra-urban stores per year. Open 24/7, these 18m² Minute stores are packed with fresh products, food and drinks and can be accessed by scanning a QR code at the entrance. This code identifies the customer, who scans their items into a virtual shopping basket and pays online. If the customer needs assistance, they can call a remote advisor via a video system.
Auchan Retail China is a natural partner for SKEMA, developing its network in China where the business school already has a strong reputation. Corporate relations have been – and continue to be – central to SKEMA’s expansion, facilitating students’ involvement in Chinese firms and getting to grips with culture, the population and the local economy. In return, SKEMA is able to boost the competences of Chinese and international managers through tailor-made executive education.
This is one of the most valuable features of the partnership, as SKEMA will also contribute to revitalising Auchan Retail China’s employer brand, providing advice and best practice in marketing and distribution from its expert research teams.
In return, Auchan will recruit interns, international volunteers, graduates and students on work experience programmes. This provides participants with invaluable experience in a fast-changing market whose culture is often very difficult from their own. It is this kind of international experience, especially in a corporation that is innovating all around the world, that gives students the international mindset they need to be successful at both SKEMA and in their careers. Additionally, representatives from Auchan will sit on the business school’s scientific committees and take part in admission interview panels.
Over 800 international students are drawn to SKEMA’s campus every year where they follow one of the four programmes offered: the BBA in global Management, the Esdhem programme, the Master in Management or one of the Masters of Science programmes. Of the students recruited every year, at least 400 are Chinese.
Both parties are looking forward to this partnership, which was officialised in Shanghai by myself and Ludovic Holinier, CEO of Sun Art Retail Group and Director of Auchan Retail China on 21st June 2018.