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Chinese Sports Brand Takes On Nike

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Category: Badminton News Published: 13 January 2010
Posted by Hits: 1164

Li Ning opened its first U.S. store in Portland, home to the sportswear giant's headquarters.

HONG KONG -- In its quest for international recognition, Chinese sports brand Li Ning wants to take on world-class competitors. That's why it opened its first U.S. outlet in Portland, Ore. -- the same city where Nike's headquarters are located.

There was neither ribbon-cutting nor dragon-dancing when Li Ning ( LNNGF - news - people ), China's largest retailer and supplier of sporting goods, opened its store on NW Hoyt Street near Portland's central post office on Jan 4. Yet, Li Ning's quiet entry into the U.S. market stirred up interest in Oregon's biggest city, a hub for Nike ( NKE - news - people )'s designers, distributors and buyers.

As part of its latest marketing strategy to attract U.S. consumers, Li Ning has chosen a few sporting goods to feature in its Portland store. These products include badminton, basketball and table tennis gear as well as a line of kung fu/tai chi-themed sportswear.

A Li Ning spokesperson in Hong Kong told Forbes that Li Ning will begin to enter into the international market between 2009 and 2013.

"Its first store in Portland is a trial for the company to test and to get familiar with the U.S. market. With actual data to form a more concrete plan, Li Ning is expected to expand and penetrate into the international market from 2014 to 2018", said Philip Lo of iPROgilvy on behalf of Li Ning.

Lo added that the mainland Chinese market is still Li Ning's major stream of income now and in the near term. Li Ning did not release official figures about its market share and ranking in China. According to a research report by BoA Merrill Lynch, Nike was the most popular sport brand in China with 19% market share in 2008 while Addidas ranked second with 15% share and Li Ning seized 11% share as the country's No. 3. The brokerage estimated Li Ning to have overtaken Adidas in 2009 as the second largest player in China's $10 billion sportswear industry.

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