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Suppliers in fast lane as China embraces winter sports

By Chai Hua in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-19 10:01

Anta Sports Products Ltd, China's biggest athletics apparel company, said it plans to launch its first snow sports product under its own brand this year-as the domestic skiing market and other winter activities are expected to be on track for a major boost.

The company said it would expand more in the high-end segment of the market, in line with the general consumer market shift toward premium brands in China.

"When a country get more developed economically, their consumers tend to go for high-end activities," said Robert Koepp, director of the consultancy, the Economist Corporate Network.

Koepp added that skiing and other downhill snow sports were typical examples of the more high-end activities.

According to data of the Economist Intelligence Unit, China's 600 or so ski resorts received only 12.5 million visits in 2015, while about 53.9 million people hit the slopes on mountains in the United States during the same period.

Koepp believes that disparity shows the potential scale that China could eventually ramp up to with its winter sports. He also said the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics was a major opportunity to promote winter sports in the nation.

James Zheng, Anta's executive director, said the company would launch its own snow sportswear in the fourth quarter of the current year.

Anta has already started to explore the market, forming a joint venture with Japanese brand Descente Ltd at the beginning of 2016. Zheng said it was targeting China's high-end professional sports market, especially winter activities.

He disclosed the Anta brand would shift to targeting families with an annual income of 100,000 to 150,000 yuan income, as opposed to the current focus on those with a 60,000 to 100,000 yuan income.

Zheng also said his company aimed to grow at a faster pace than the industry average in 2017, which was about 8 to 10 percent annually, and its online trading was expected to increase by double digits.

But the Economist Corporate Network also warned in an industry report that foreign sportswear companies would have a majority share of the mid to high-end market by 2020 in China.

Anta, which has a market value of over HK$55 billion ($7 billion), recorded 47.9 percent growth in net profits in the first half of 2016.

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