Alibaba’s Freshippo or Hema supermarkets are known for their fresh products such as seafood. Alibaba wants to take Freshippo public.

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Alibaba Food unit Freshippo has expanded its number of brick-and-mortar stores in China, the company said on Friday, as the firm prepares to spin off from its parent company and go public.

Freshippo, known as Hema in China, plans to open 12 new stores across mainland China in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Food has become a battleground for China’s two biggest e-commerce firms: Alibaba and

Last week, JD established a new business unit to its 7Fresh grocery store and appointed a company veteran to lead the division.

Alibaba’s Freshippo attempts to combine the company’s strength in e-commerce and logistics with a more traditional shopping experience. Users can order online and have groceries delivered, but they can also head to brick-and-mortar stores known for fresh produce like lobster.

The expansion comes three months after that Alibaba split into six separate business units in an effort to get the company back to growth. These units can raise external capital and go public.

However, Freshippo is a separate, independent business under Alibaba, not one of the six business groups. Last month, Alibaba ignited an initial public offering for Freshippo, but did not specify a timeline.

Freshippo has more than 300 stores in China in 27 Chinese cities.

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