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Fitch Ratings believes China's sportswear industry would expand

With the segment proving to be resilient amid the country's challenging retail environment due to shifting consumer behaviour and preferences for more differentiated shopping concepts, China's sportswear industry should see continued expansion over the next few years, says the Fitch Ratings.

Following the issues of store overexpansion and excess inventory having been resolved since 2012Both international and domestic brands have benefited from the expansion of China's sportswear industry which Fitch accredits to increased investment and higher sports participation.

The State Council aims to develop China's sports industry to CNY5 trillion by 2025 and increase the area available for practising sports. Greater interest in fitness and sports has also become more apparent with more people taking an interest in running, for instance that a total of 328 marathons were registered through the Chinese Athletic Association in 2016.

This attracted approximately 2.8 million participants, and representing an increase of 85 per cent compared with the previous year. Likewise, according to a news report the number of participants at private gyms across China's 70 major cities has increased by 4 to 5 million each year since 2011.

The China market is led by international brands adidas and Nike. While adidas reported over 20% constant currency growth for China in 2016, Nike also saw double digit growth in Greater China.

However, Fitch believes local brands can also benefit, since they offer consumers a competitive value-for-money proposition. For instance, local brand 361 Degrees International Limited (BB/Stable) saw over 7 per cent y-o-y same-store sales growth in 2016 and its trade-fair orders for 3Q17 achieved a high single-digit increase.