Hongxing aims to beat foreign players in sportswear sector

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 May, 2009, 12:00am

China Hongxing Sports, the mainland's leading sportswear maker, aims to grab a 15 per cent share of the domestic market, as it is confident of getting ahead of foreign rivals in expanding its sales network.

The Singapore-listed owner of the Erke brand would focus on the domestic market, as the mainland's growing wealth benefited sportswear makers, chief executive Wu Rongzhao said.

'It will be an uphill task, but we think the goal is within reach if we use a proper expansion strategy,' he said. 'The key to success is using an internationalised image to woo Chinese consumers.'

Mainland sportswear makers, including Fujian Peak Group, are grappling with an invasion by big foreign names, as an increasing number of youngsters choose Nike and Adidas, attracted by their brand ambassadors and spokesmen, including American basketballer Kobe Bryant and the Manchester United football team.

'We are no match to them in terms of financial strength,' Mr Wu said. 'But we know better how to expand the domestic market, and we want to offer value-for-money products to middle-income shoppers.'

Mr Wu said Hongxing aimed to carve out its own niche in tennis, a sport that has gained ground in China in recent years thanks to the rise of several top women players.

'We are willing to spend on high-profile tennis events to enhance our brand awareness,' he said. 'We shouldn't be on the sidelines during a top-class event hosted by China.'

Hongxing has become an official sponsor of the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 to be held in October.

The Fujian-based company reported net profit of 56 million yuan (HK$63.6 million) for the first quarter of this year, down 50.9 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Revenue dropped 12.5 per cent to 567.8 million yuan.

Mr Wu said Hongxing would expand the number of outlets to profit from mainlanders' increasing spending on sportswear.

'There are no other markets in the world that can grow as fast as China,' he said. 'We will take a go-slow approach on overseas expansion while focusing on the domestic market.'

China is likely to become the world's second-largest sportswear market after the United States next year, the China Stationery and Sporting Goods Association said.