Wed, 15 Jul 2020

Models present creations from Anta Kids during the New York Fashion Week in New York, the United States, Sept. 8, 2019. China's children sportswear brand Anta kids debuted its latest collections on Sunday at the ongoing New York Fashion Week (NYFW). (Photo by Michael Nagle/Xinhua)

CEO of leading Chinese sportswear brand Anta, world third largest sportswear manufacturer, voiced his confidence for the growth of sports industry in the future, claiming the fallout from the unprecedented crisis caused by COVID-19 could bring opportunities for all business owners.

By Xinhua Sportswriters Xiao Shiyao, Tai Xiaoan

BEIJING, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Chairman and CEO of leading Chinese sportswear brand Anta, Ding Shizhong, who is also a deputy to the National People's Congress of China, voiced his confidence on Sunday for the growth of the sports industry in the future, claiming the fallout from the unprecedented crisis caused by COVID-19 could bring opportunities for all business owners.

Ding recently drafted a proposal to the national legislature, focusing on tax cuts and financial support for minor enterprises, which he believes "could stabilize the job market and stimulate consumption amid the global pandemic."

"Local governments at different levels across the country have issued consumption coupons to people, which is great but can't be a long term solution," he suggested. "We have to save the minor enterprises who are struggling during the pandemic. If they can survive, we will see a quicker recovery of economy."

A working staff member works at a retail store of ANTA Limited, a leading sportswear company in China, in Jinjiang, southeast China's Fujian Province, Sept. 22, 2014. (Xinhua/Zhang Guojun)(wjq)

Anta, the world's third largest sportswear company, reported a record-high 33.93 billion yuan (4.8 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue last year, behind only Nike and Adidas, had a lackluster first quarter in 2020 as overall business decreased by 20 to 25 percent compared to previous projections.

"As a company where offline retail sales accounts for 80 percent of our revenue, we shut down nearly all of our 13,000 stores across the country in February due to the pandemic," Ding recalled. "It affected not only Anta as one company, but also thousands of our suppliers and partners."

Following the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, almost all major events suspended or canceled, sports has become one of the hardest-hit industry. "We have faced many challenges before, but this time is unprecedented," Ding noted.

In order to minimize losses, Ding and his management team made several crucial decisions including promoting online sales, which has increased by over 50 percent in the first quarter year-on-year. "We innovated our retail model and supply chain, and even introduced mask production machines so that we can produce masks for our nearly 300,000 employees and partners," he said.

Customers select sports apparel at a retail store of ANTA Limited, a leading sportswear company in China, in Jinjiang, southeast China's Fujian Province, Sept. 22, 2014. (Xinhua/Zhang Guojun)(wjq)

As the pandemic has been gradually brought under control in China, all of Anta's factories and stores have resumed operation since late March. "During the five-day national vacation in early May, the sales of all our brands have achieved rapid recovery and growth. We can see that things are back on track," Ding revealed.

"Of course the global economy still has many uncertainties, and it's too early to say we have won the battle," Ding said, suggesting that business owners should see the challenges as an opportunity to tackle certain problems that were once overlooked.

"If the pandemic didn't happen and the market was good, we wouldn't take some problems seriously, such as organizational efficiency and cost," he claimed. "Because of the pandemic, the problems were discovered and resolved in advance. To some extent, it has been beneficial to the company,"

The 50-year-old billionaire has confidence that the pandemic could also accelerate the potential of the sports and health industries. "Evidence shows that people's concern for their health is rising due to the virus, and it will stimulate sports-related consumption."

Ding also reassured that his company's global ambition wouldn't waver after the crisis, saying that "Anta is ready for the obstacles for the long-term global expansion. We will insist on it no matter what happens."

The Fujian-based company completed the acquisition of Finland's Amer Sports in March last year, following its merger of a slew of global brands including Descente and Kolon Sport in recent years. ■

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