Sport­ing chance to re­vive ‘golden years’

China Daily (Canada) - - KONG -

the com­pany’s fu­ture growth re­courses. “There’s no need for us to main­tain low-in­come stores that can only rake in monthly rev­enues of less than 60,000 yuan,” stresses Zhang.

It might sound ob­vi­ous to re­vamp the dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels, in­ven­tory sit­u­a­tion and mar­ket­ing strat­egy, and Kappa has to stick to its unique­ness.

“Hav­ing a chain of Omini lo­gos, pat­terned on the ‘back­to­cou­ple’ and very much liked by con­sumers, is our DNA,” Zhang says.

From team­ing up with Ja­panese de­signer Kazuki Ku­raishi to launch­ing a co-branded new prod­uct se­ries, and con­duct­ing cross-sec­tor col­lab­o­ra­tion with celebri­ties in the en­ter­tain­ment, mu­sic and art com­mu­ni­ties to lift brand ex­po­sure, Kappa is bent on be­ing a trend­set­ter again, as it did when it first landed in China.

Po­si­tion­ing it­self as a fash­ion sports­wear brand, and not like any other brand, the com­pany has sought to fo­cus on di­ver­si­fied mar­ket seg­ments like sport­ing ac­ces­sories and women’s goods driven by their lust for gym­nas­tics and yoga, says Zhang.

“But, for both gen­eral and spe­cific Chi­nese sports com­pa­nies, the ma­jor prob­lem is how to gain and keep cus­tomers’ ef­fec­tive com­mit­ment from an emo­tional view­point”.

Zhang thinks Li Ning has done well as it had ob­tained a great base of peo­ple’s shoring up, fea­tur­ing “Chi­nese Li Ning” and clas­si­cal el­e­ments, which dis­tin­guishes it­self from for­eign com­peti­tors.

China Dongx­i­ang has played its part too in pro­mot­ing Chi­nese teenage foot­ball cul­ture, which has far lagged be­hind that of West­ern coun­tries. The Kappa brand has con­trib­uted to spon­sor­ing the “Chi­nese Foot­ball Boy” video tour­na­ment and has re­ceived two bil­lion clicks from view­ers since last year’s de­but.

Un­like be­ing just a tra­di­tional sports­wear com­pany, in­vest­ing has long been seen as a vi­tal strat­egy by China Dongx­i­ang’s di­rec­tors. Based on the slo­gan “Be­ing profit-ori­ented, work­ing with high-cal­iber part­ners and be­ing fo­cused on com­pet­i­tive projects”, it has teamed up with many pri­vate en­ter­prises, such as the Alibaba Group-backed Yun­feng Fund and sto­ried US ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vestor Se­quoia Cap­i­tal. As of late June this year, the com­pany had held Alibaba shares val­ued at 1.98 bil­lion yuan.

“Liq­uid­ity is our pri­or­ity amid the mar­ket un­cer­tain­ties, as well as beef­ing up our pro­tec­tive ca­pa­bil­ity,” Zhang ex­plains. The com­pany’s fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment seg­ment cur­rently boasts to­tal as­sets of HK$11.3 bil­lion.

Al­though not a diehard sports fan him­self in his child­hood, sys­tem­atic learn­ing about sports seemed to be the cat­a­lyst for Zhang to make his jour­ney into the busi­ness.

“Thanks to sports, it binds my ca­reer with my in­ter­est,” he says.

Re­call­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence a few years back, when he tried to read fi­nan­cial state­ments in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try, every sin­gle nerve in his body was re­luc­tant to work, he says in jest.

Hav­ing been with the sport­ing sec­tor for well over 20 years, Zhang bears plenty of tes­ti­mony to the ups and downs in the coun­try’s sport­ing goods busi­ness.

In his life, one per­son stands out — Chen Yi­hong, cur­rently chair­man and the big­gest share­holder of China Dongx­i­ang, whom Zhang suc­ceeded as chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

Have known each other as col­leagues at Li-Ning, where Chen was its first CEO, both were of the opin­ion that the Kappa brand was un­der­val­ued with lots of room for de­vel­op­ment.

“Our com­mon cause to work for the fu­ture of the sport­ing goods busi­ness has brought us to­gether,” says Zhang.

Be­fore join­ing China Dongx­i­ang, Zhang was pres­i­dent of LeS­ports — the sports arm of China’s trou­bled Chi­nese video stream­ing group LeEco — for less than a year.

He prides him­self in hav­ing what he calls a “well-thought plan” and a clear fu­ture di­rec­tion for the group. “The most un­com­fort­able thing for a leader is that you haven’t got any plan in case you know the prob­lem and the so­lu­tion. So, the only thing I need to do is to let time do it”.

Con­tact the writer at joyce­sun@chi­nadai­

Zhang Zhiy­ong, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of sports ap­parel maker China Dongx­i­ang, says con­sump­tion up­grade and chang­ing life­styles play a big role in the re­con­struc­tion of the Chi­nese sports­wear busi­ness.

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