BizChina Update 22 Aug 2009 By Gary Bowerman One year ago, most of the talk in China’s domestic sports apparel industry focused around Li Ning, a company created by a 1984 Chinese Olympic gymnast – and the man who ‘ran’ around the upper reaches of the Bird’s Nest stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Li Ning has since opened its first overseas store, in Singapore, and chosen the sport of badminton as its main promotional platform for expansion in Southeast Asia. More recently, another name has started to oust Li Ning from the business magazine cover pages. Even a few months ago, the name Anta meant little beyond China. Then the company won a contract to supply the official sportswear for the Chinese national team at the 2010 Olympics Games in London, and it began signing up international tennis stars to raise its profile. This week, Anta unveiled its interim corporate figures in a glossy document adorned with images of its two leading brand ambassadors: former world female tennis number one Jelena Jankovic and Chinese number one Zheng Jie. Anta, which is incorporated in the Caymen Islands, celebrated its interim results – including a net profit of RMB608m – by running a two-thirds of a page advert in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper. Its 62-page interim report reveals that Anta now has 6,129 stores nationwide, having added 462 this year alone. It boasted sales of 16.4 million pairs of sports shoes (up 26.6 per cent year on year) and 25.7 million pieces of apparel (up 22 per cent). Clearly, Anta has emerged as a major player in China’s sportswear retail market – and seems likely to follow Li Ning by taking its brand beyond Chinese borders. Perhaps it will also spend a little of its sizeable interim profit on sharpening the rather clunky corporate slogan emblazoned across its current materials: “Dare to achieve, Strive for perfection.” Impossible is Nothing, it ain’t.