ATHLETIC footwear maker Yue Yuen Industrial is ready to kick off its retail business in China. The company plans to open up 100 to 200 counters in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shenyang. Choi Kwok-keung, the managing director, said Yue Yuen would eventually open its own retail chain shops in China. The company acquired sole agent's right to distribute Converse footwear on the mainland. Under a joint-venture agreement, it is entitled to sell 30 per cent of its output to the domestic market. Yue Yuen expected to launch three to five shops in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and a further 50 counters in various department stores in China before the end of the year, Mr Choi said. The company's profits grew more than 30 per cent since it listed in July 1992. Mr Choi said he expected it would enjoy high profit growth in the next few years. However, athletic shoe makers in China face keen competition. Mr Choi said Yue Yuen had changed strategy to take different overseas orders, both big and small. The tough competition ruined small manufacturers, a common trend in China's athletic footwear industry, he said. The company planned to diversify its production base to reduce its exposure risk to China, he said. It had three production lines in Indonesia and planned to install up to 20 more there within two years. Mr Choi said Yue Yuen also planned to expand its production plant in The Philippines next year. He said the company would invest between US$3 million (about HK$23.1 million) and US$5 million in expanding the Philippines plant.