Decathlon sees more expansion in China market

Winning mentality: China’s Li Shi Feng (left) celebrates after beating compatriot Yu Qi Shi in the men’s singles final at the All England Open in Birmingham. The production value of China’s sports industry is expected to reach US$726.8bil (RM3.25 trillion) by 2025. — AFP

SHENZHEN: French sporting goods retailer Decathlon is upping the ante in China’s sports market as local consumers’ pursuit of healthier lifestyles is increasing and diversifying.

With the government’s push for a healthier population and people’s soaring interest in sports, the sports industry in China is undergoing a significant transformation, and demand for various sporting equipment and services is rising steadily.

China’s sports industry has shifted from the traditional mode of sports manufacturing to a multi-structural model, including production, service and consumption, said Zhou Xing, North China markets leader at PwC China.

According to the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021 to 2025), the total production value of China’s sports industry is expected to reach five trillion yuan (US$726.8bil or RM3.25 trillion) by 2025, with sports consumption exceeding 2.8 trillion yuan (RM1.8 trillion).

Zhou said more innovative products and business forms in the sports arena will be derived from its integration with technology, education, culture and tourism.

However, she also noted that China’s sports consumption market still has huge potential for growth, as per capita sports consumption in the nation is still far below that in developed countries.

According to a survey by the municipal government of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in 2020, its residents spent an average of 3,175 yuan (US$461.5 or RM2,063) on sports per year, while the figure in 2018 was more than US$1,345 (RM6,014) in North America, she added.

To cater to the diverse and growing demand for sports and exercise, Decathlon China recently organised the campaign “Sport to Paris” together with the French Embassy in Beijing and related French consulates.

The event was held in seven cities including Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai, and demonstrates the health benefits of sports such as paddle boarding, running, balance biking, skateboarding, cycling and hiking.

“The government’s strategy of ‘Fitness for All’ has gained great popularity. It has resulted in not only the improvement of people’s awareness of sports and health but also the diversification and upgrade of sports consumption,” said Servando Quevedo Gonzalvez, vice-president of Decathlon China.

He said the sports chain has developed both entry-level products and middle to high-end professional-level equipment specifically to meet the needs of experienced players in the Chinese market.

Moreover, he noticed that there are many untapped emerging niche markets. In addition to traditional sports, such as football, badminton and swimming, emerging sports such as camping, flying disc, paddle boarding and skateboarding have also attracted more attention from a wider audience, an indication of the improving national economic level and people’s pursuit of high-quality life, he said.

Taking paddle boarding as an example, he said, it has shown explosive growth in China, and families with children have gradually become the main consumers of paddle boards. — China Daily/ANN

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