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China No 1 for New Balance
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Athletic footwear and apparel company New Balance announced that it plans to become the No 1 running-wear brand in the Chinese market.


The company also said China would become its second largest market - after the United States - globally by the year 2012.


The company's new CEO Robert DeMartini unveiled the plan on Tuesday during his first tour of the mainland after being appointed in April.


"The goal is a challenge, but it is also achievable," he said.


"China is a key market for us, as it will play a significant role in doubling our global sales over the next five years. We have achieved strong brand growth in China in recent years, which will serve as a solid foundation upon which to expand and increase our market share."


The company considers the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to be important to boosting its sports business in the country. New Balance would continue to be the official sponsor of the modern pentathlon at the 2008 Olympic Games, which is considered to be a golden opportunity to showcase products to consumers and distributors.


DeMartini added that the Chinese market is full of competition, crowded with "well-performing competitors" from home and abroad.


The top two international sports giants Nike and Adidas are widely accepted by young Chinese, and local sports brands, such as Anta and Li Ning, win consumers with reasonable prices and quality.


"Both international and local brands perform well here. A key part of our strategy will be strengthening our core running products, and we will also broaden our current line to include more lifestyle products," DeMartini said.


To further sharpen the company's competitive edge, New Balance plans to expand its consumer base among the younger generation, which research has found is less familiar with the brand.


"We're currently working on a marketing platform for 2008 that will connect with younger consumers aged 16 to 29," DeMartini said.


(China Daily November 16, 2007)

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