Top manufacturers see nation as innovation center
By Wang Zhuoqiong| China Daily Global| Updated: Oct 9, 2019
A sports jacket made from 11 recycled plastic bottles and a running shoe that weighs the same as a bag of potato chips are among the latest offerings from the country's top sportswear producer Anta Sports Products Ltd.
Such innovative efforts are echoing the country's plan to boost the development of the sports industry.
Inspired by increasing public sports participation, the central government has pledged to further stimulate sports-related consumption through a plan to back the quality development of the sports industry. The plan, issued by the State Council, China's cabinet, in September, has encouraged sports consumption and optimized the sports consumption environment to support innovation and development in sportswear manufacturing.
Li Ling, vice-president of Anta Group, said the plan has given strong support and direction to industry development, ushering in a golden era for the sports industry.
By stressing the support for innovation in the sportswear manufacturing industry, Anta will continue to focus on "single-focus, multiple-brand, and omni-channel" strategies and keep on investing in science and research development, she said.
By the end of last year, the company had put 5.2 percent of its revenue into innovation. Since 2005, when the company founded its first national-level sports and science lab, Anta has filed more than 1,200 national-level patents, taking innovation beyond its headquarters in Xiamen, Fujian province.
Anta has attracted more than 200 talents from roughly 20 countries and regions and set up design and research centers in markets including the United States, Japan and Italy. The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics offers Anta a chance to provide sportswear products and equipments for 36 national teams, including those involved in speed skating. Through years of innovation and research, Anta has assumed a leading position in the world in terms of speedskating equipment.
For international sportswear brands, China is also the key market and an innovation center.
For Adidas, China is the largest, fastest growing and most important market worldwide, growing 14 percent in sales revenue in the second quarter of this year, marking the 21st consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in the country.
Recently, the company has made China its Asia-Pacific headquarters and its Asia Creation Center, which is an important trend setter and source of innovation, best practices, and talent, serving as a benchmark throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The Chinese market is now one of three global strategic growth areas for Adidas, along with North America under its global five-year strategy, and the company is hugely optimistic and confident about what lies ahead for Adidas and the wider China sports industry over the coming years.
One way Adidas plans to achieve growth is through the high-quality, innovative products it offers to Chinese consumers, as it focuses on helping athletes of all abilities to achieve peak performance.
Adidas is also the leading sports brand successfully catering to China's growing appetite for sports-inspired fashion and lifestyle products, through hugely popular brands such as Originals and Neo.
Another important way Adidas is contributing to the development of Chinese sports is through grassroots participation in sports such as football and basketball. The company has helped nurture a generation of new talent through initiatives such as its school football collaboration with China's Ministry of Education and sponsorship of China's University Football Association and popular nationwide sporting events such as the Beijing Marathon and the urban sports initiative, Adidas Republic of Sports.