Putting their skates on to boost output
A Qiqihar-based skates manufacturer will invest 550 million yuan ($79.4 million) in expanding production in the next five years, forecasting bumper winter sports seasons.
Hei Long Ice Skates Manufacturing Co Ltd, a private company, said it would increase its production of skates to 3 million units a year by 2020, and would start to produce snowboards, ski boards and protective equipment.
Its annual ski and snowboard production capacity will be 200,000 units within five years and protective equipment production will hit 340,000, according to the company.
Company chairman Shan Zhihong said: “I see a bright future for the winter sports equipment industry, especially after the government issued a series of plans for the industry earlier this month.”
In one of the plans, the General Administration of Sport of China proposed that the financial scale of winter sports should reach 600 billion yuan by 2020 and 1 trillion yuan by 2025.
However, the plan also listed several bottlenecks for the industry’s growth. For example, the number of people participating in winter sports is lower than that for other sports, and there is a shortage of local companies to build their own brands.
“Winter sports are cur- rently less popular than summer sports among Chinese, as they can be more easily affected by the environment and geographical conditions,” said Huang Yaling, professor at Beijing Sport University.
“But winter sports will flourish in more places in the near future because of technological development, like snow-making equipment,” Huang said.
Local governments are mapping out policies to engage more citizens in winter sports.
China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang, where Hei Long’s operations are located, is rich in natural resources suitable for winter sports. Governor Lu Hao was quoted by web portal Sohu.com as saying that the province would integrate sports, culture and tourism resources to boost its economy.
Beijing will improve public services for winter sports and promote skill and fitness, Sun Xuecai, director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports, said at a news conference.
Shan said that country-level plans and local policy decisions would offer plenty of opportunities to his company, and he projected an output of 1 billion yuan in 2020 and 3 billion yuan in 2025.
Hei Long halted production in 2012 because of shrinking profits. After a three-year absence, Shan decided to resume business in June 2015, as there are an increasing number of people showing interest in skating and skiing.
Within six months after Shan reopened the company, revenue hit 10.07 million yuan.
To shore up growth, the company said it was investing in research and development, promoting its brand name, and launching a marketing campaign.
financial scale of China’s winter sports in 2025, according to the sports regulator estimated output value of Hei Long Ice Skates Manufacturing Co by 2025
Contact the writers at tianxuefei@ chinadaily.com.cn
Skiers perform during the opening ceremony of a ski resort in Changchun, Jilin province.