Running a sports biz marathon

Updated 2017-06-12 10:31:45 China Daily
361 Degrees sponsored Kai Markus, a professional German runner, to run 12,000 kilometers as part of the 'Run My Silk Road' project. Markus ran from Hamburg to Shanghai passing through eight countries from March to November in 2016. (Photo/China Daily)

361 Degrees sponsored Kai Markus, a professional German runner, to run 12,000 kilometers as part of the 'Run My Silk Road' project. Markus ran from Hamburg to Shanghai passing through eight countries from March to November in 2016. (Photo/China Daily)

361 Degrees is set for the long haul in sportswear and equipment market

Xiamen-headquartered 361 Degrees International Ltd, one of China's biggest sportswear manufacturers by sales revenue, has embarked on a global business marathon of sorts.

For the uninitiated, 361 Degrees sponsored 106,500 sets of uniforms for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games athletes and officials, thus gaining global visibility.

Since then, its brand image has brightened and new regional branches are coming up in the United States, the Netherlands and Brazil.

The company is keen to support sports activities such as marathon races in countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative this year. It announced that it has become the official partner of the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in May.

It also plans to raise the proportion of its overseas business to over 10 percent by 2022 from 1.6 percent now.

As an expanding business, 361 Degrees plans to build a global sales network well supported by logistics centers in Australia, South Africa, Italy and Germany this year.

It is working to improve online sales in both developed and developing economies.

Ding Wuhao, president of 361 Degrees, said these moves will cash in on the company's continued growth by meeting the demands of many countries' burgeoning middle class.

This segment of people is "placing a higher emphasis on the quality of life experiences"; and "the needs of many economies with an ignited interest in sports" have to be met, he said.

So, 361 Degrees started its international expedition in 2014, and created an initial network of international sales and logistics centers by 2016, well in time for the Rio Games.

Such efforts helped boost its sales revenue by nearly 13 percent year-on-year to 5.02 billion yuan (8 million) last year.

"Many opportunities come from countries and regions taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative. They have a growing demand for various sports products, especially running and daily training shoes, sportswear made with new material and ski equipment, particularly in countries in East Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia," said Ding.

The group's main businesses include adult and kids clothing lines under the One-Way brand and e-commerce. It established 6,735 stores in the China market, of which 2,000 were points of sale for kids by the end of 2016.

To strengthen the Belt and Road Initiative, 361 Degrees will adjust its overseas expansion strategy, Ding said. This would mean securing more market share in Asian markets and burnishing its brand in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The company also operates a number of shops and points of sale in new emerging markets such as Vietnam and Nepal through local dealerships.

"Strengthening the dealership network is an effective way of reducing financial risk in a new market, because our local dealers are familiar with both market environment and customers," said Ding. "We're both out to make a profit, and they want a return on their outlay as soon as possible."

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