If Spanish tennis wunderkind Rafael Nadal stands on the podium
at the 2008 Beijing Olympics wearing Li-Ning Co Ltd's sportswear,
it will exemplify the Chinese firm's slogan: Anything is
Li-Ning yesterday unveiled its plans for international expansion
and signed a cooperation agreement with the Spanish Olympic
Committee (SOC) to outfit the Spanish team at next year's
Juan Antonio Samaranch, honorary president of the International
Olympic Committee, represented the SOC in the agreement with
company founder and board chairman Li Ning.
The Spanish Olympic Delegation is the second team to partner
with Li-Ning for the 2008 Beijing Games. The Swedish Olympic
Delegation entered a similar partnership earlier this year.
"We are still looking forward to more sponsorship cooperation
with delegations from other countries," said Jason Guo, Li-Ning's
chief operation officer.
But the company lost its 12-year sponsorship of the Chinese
delegations to international rival adidas, which will pay some $80
million for the sponsorship, according to reports, a figure more
than Li-Ning's entire annual marketing budget.
Guo said deals with foreign Olympic delegations are a
significant step toward international expansion.
"To make our presence felt in the global market, Li-Ning must be
a brand with high recognition and reputation first," he told China
The company, which opened its first European store in Spain in
2001, now has almost 30 test stores on the continent. The stores
account for no more than 2 percent of Li-Ning's total business.
But Guo said the company will still open stores in the
Netherlands and Belguim soon. As the top sports brand in China,
Li-Ning will have 5,100 stores across the country by 2008, with
locations in all first- and second-tier cities and many third-tier
The company earlier said it aims to be listed among the top five
sports brands in the world by 2018.
(China Daily June 26, 2007)