Li-Ning boosts margins, profit as restructure pays off

Stronger margins helped Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning boost profit attributable to shareholders by 56 per cent last year, to RMB515 million (US$82 million).

The company says sales rose 11 per cent to RMB4.176 billion and the net profit margin from 4.1 per cent to 5.8 per cent, with both brick-and-mortar sales and online turnover rising. E-commerce now accounts for 19 per cent of total sales of its core brand.

Li-Ning is coming to the end of a major business restructure and brand repositioning which has resulted in shorter product life cycles, reduced in-store inventories and – after widespread discounting and buy-back programs to reduce the excess stock – stronger margins.

Last year, the company showed the results of placing more emphasis on sports research and investment in product research and development to design and provide professional products to athletes and sports enthusiasts.

“Incessant imagination, on the other hand, is driving Li-Ning to be more trend-setting by integrating fashion, entertainment and leisure elements with professional sports, therefore creating more professional and stylish products and sports experience for sports enthusiasts and life enjoyers,” the company said in its earnings statement.

“To enhance retail capability, we are dedicated to enhancing the precision of our product planning and optimising the supply model, so as to satisfy end-user demands in a ‘swift + precise’ way. As for retail stores, we upheld the consumer-oriented approach by enhancing and re-shaping retail experience at stores constantly.”

As at the end of last year, Li-Ning had 6262 points of sale in China, a net decrease of 178 during the year, excluding its Li-Ning Young channel, which now has 173 stores across 26 mainland provinces.

“The group has taken continuous initiatives to refine channel structure and raise channel efficiency by implementing various measures including closing down and renovating inefficient and loss-making stores and opening highly efficient stores and key experience-concept stores,” the company said. “During the year, the overall retail sell-through registered a high-single digit growth, with product discount rate and sell-out rate further improved.”

Li-Ning says competition in the sports-casual market is still intense.

Founder and executive chairman, Li Ning himself, said the robust development of the sports industry brings new opportunities as well as challenges to the future.

“We foresee the consumption structure of consumers to be transformed toward a more refined and mature dimension while the influence of brand power and brand value deepened. Looking forward, we will continue to devote major resources into sports knowledge learning, technological research and development and Li-Ning brand experience development, proactively exploring and broadening room for business development.”


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