Sportswear maker Xtep International Holdings has joined home-grown rivals in reporting stellar first-half earnings as they benefit from China’s growing sportswear market. Fujian-based Xtep posted a 23 jump in net profit and revenue for the six months ended June to 463 million yuan (US$65.5 million) and 3.3 billion yuan respectively, according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Wednesday. Rivals 361, Li Ning, and Anta have similarly posted profit gains ranging from nearly 10 per cent to 196 per cent. Since the start of this year, Xtep – China’s third-largest home-grown sports brand – has gone on a shopping spree for foreign brands. The move, coupled with expansion into different markets and products, has benefited the company. In March, Xtep announced a venture with Wolverine World Wide to sell its high-end Merrell hiking boots and Saucony athletic shoes in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau as it looked to enter tier one cities in China, where top international rivals dominate. In May, it acquired E-Land Footwear, owner of US shoe brand K-Swiss, for US$260 million. “2019 is an evolving year to us as the kick-off of multi-brand portfolio signifies another milestone of Xtep,” said Ding Shiu Po, chairman and chief executive of Xtep. He added that aim of the company was to grow into a global sportswear player backed by a multi-brand portfolio. Boosted by an expanding middle class and government backing, China’s sportswear market size is set to grow 148 per cent from 2019 to 2023, according to data from Euromonitor. However, international giants Adidas and Nike were still the top sportswear companies in China by market share, but Anta – mainland’s most valuable sportswear brand – and Li Ning, sit just behind in third and fourth place, according to data from Euromonitor. Lower down are Xtep and 361. Earlier this month, Xtep also made a first push into basketball, signing NBA star Jeremy Lin as an ambassador and breaking away from a sole focus of becoming China’s top running brand. The partnership will include a range of basketball shoes dedicated to Lin. “We believe, leveraging his reputation, the new products we are going to launch will be well-received by the public. Looking forward, we remain focused on product innovation and enhancing store efficiency to drive organic growth,” said Ding. Xtep expands its sportswear portfolio into basketball shoes and apparel, signing on star Jeremy Lin as brand spokesman The company said it will continue to expand overseas in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, having opened 82 new stores in China and overseas so far this year. It is, however, “cautiously optimistic” about the second half of the year amid global economic uncertainties. Also on Tuesday, 361 Degrees International posted a 9.7 per cent rise in net profit to 367.4 million yuan and a 7.3 per cent gain in revenue to 3.2 billion yuan, after a rebranding to cater to the mass consumer. Last week, Li Ning, the eponymous brand of former Chinese Olympic gymnast, reported a 196 per cent increase in net profit to 795 million yuan and a 33 per cent rise in revenue to 6.25 billion yuan, driven by a growth in e-commerce. Lastly Anta reported an expected 25 per cent gain in net profit for the first six months compared to the same period last year, in a filing to the stock exchange at the end of July, and a more than 35 per cent increase in revenue. Anta too has adopted a multi-brand strategy to become premium with a “global mindset”, chairman and CEO Ding Shizhong said at an earlier press conference in Hong Kong. The company’s portfolio includes the Italian-South Korean brand Fila, and Descente from Japan.