Alisports teams up with Chinese sporting goods brand Hosa to expand new retail efforts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 6:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 6:30pm

Alibaba Group’s sports arm Alisports is teaming up with Chinese gym and sports retail outlet operator Hosa in a bid to expand its “new retail” offerings for sports products.

The strategic partnership, announced on Tuesday, will see Alisports and Hosa work together in integrating online and offline commerce. As part of the agreement, Alisports will carry Hosa’s products on its Alisports online store on the Tmall marketplace.

Hosa, which operates a network of 160 gyms in China as well as a chain of Hosa sportswear stores, will also work with Alisports in developing sports training courses which will be promoted and sold offline in Hosa’s retail stores. The Hong Kong-listed sporting goods retailer will also share with Alisports its consumer shopping pattern data as well as data on its gym members.

“Hosa is a sports and fitness company that advocates exercise and a healthy lifestyle, and Alisports is an internet company that is on a mission to make exercise easy for everyone. Together, we can do more for the sports and fitness industry,” said Zhang Dazhong, chief executive of Alisports in a statement.

Alisports in April closed a US$190 million Series A funding round led by Hong Kong-based Yunfeng Capital, which counts Alibaba’s Jack Ma as one of its founders. The funding round gave Alisports a valuation of over US$1 billion, making it a unicorn company.

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The company also last month acquired Chinese fitness app Ledongli, which offers a steps tracking app that has amassed over 55 million users as Alisports looked towards expanding its e-commerce offerings and move towards a “new retail” model.

The move to a new retail business model is in line with Alibaba’s overall strategy. The term “new retail” was first coined by its founder Jack Ma, and the e-commerce giant has since invested in a string of offline retail companies as it looks to better integrate online and offline shopping to provide a better retail experience for consumers.

Alisports was established in 2015, with its operations encompassing television and digital sports rights, as well as venue commercialisation and sports event organisation. Over the last two years, Alisports organised the annual World Electronic Sports Games, a global electronic sports tournament with a multimillion dollar prize pool.

Chinese internet companies Baidu and Tencent Holdings, as well as LeEco, also operate their own sports arms, primarily to obtain exclusive streaming rights to sporting events as they look to carve out a slice of the growing subscription-based entertainment market in China. Given the large number of football and basketball fans in China, sports streaming services can be especially lucrative.

Last month, Tencent announced a deal to stream the US Major League Baseball games to viewers in China. It already has deals with the National Basketball Association (NBA), as well as the National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL).

Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.