|| Print ||
|On the Scene|
|Wednesday, February 17, 2010|
BY KEVIN MANAHAN
Li-Ning is already a phenomenal sportswear presence overseas, with almost $1 billion in annual revenue and more than 7,000 stores in China. The Beijing-based retailer has grown a great deal since it was founded 20 years ago, and now Li-Ning is ready to expand its presence and step onto the North American court. Its home city of choice? Portland, naturally.
Li-Ning USA unveiled its first American showroom this week with a grand opening ceremony at its Pearl District location. With sports apparel and equipment – everything from badminton racquets to tennis shirts – lining the shelves, the two-story showroom was officially open for business. Waiters catered to the packed house with champagne and hors d'oeuvres, a DJ kept the energy level high and I even stumbled upon Portland Mayor Sam Adams putting up a rather good fight in a game of ping-pong. Needless to say, it was an extravagant party, and celebration was certainly in order.
The company was founded by – and named after – Olympic gymnast Li-Ning, who won three gold medals in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Since its launch in 1990, the company has become one of China’s leading sportswear brands, moving beyond its local retail success to sponsor NBA athletes including Shaquille O’Neal and Baron Davis. Li-Ning’s business relationship with Davis eventually evolved to the development of his own basketball shoe brand, following in the footsteps of some of his NBA peers. The showroom’s grand opening this week served as the kickoff of the shoe – dubbed the BD Doom – and Davis himself was in attendance to oversee its launch. “Right now I’m pretty overwhelmed,” Davis said. “I just thank Li-Ning for having the wherewithal and the guts to come to the United States and know that there is room for more [brands], there is room for improvement.”
Also on board for the shoe’s release is Champs Sports, the Foot Locker brand’s second-largest component retailer. It was announced during the evening’s ribbon-cutting ceremony that Champs is teaming up with Li-Ning to distribute Davis' shoe, along with selected Li-Ning apparel and footwear, to over 50 malls on the West Coast by this August – just in time for the back-to-school shopping season.
It’s all good news for Portland, and it’s bound to get better as the 23-employee showroom finds its place among Portlanders. But why the Rose City? General manager Jay Li narrowed it down to one fact: This town knows footwear. “Portland, as you know, is the epicenter of athletic footwear,” Li said. “It is a great testing route for us to introduce the brand and ease into our international presence with the requisite resources.”
And as a little brand called Nike proved, humble Portland roots can go a long way, and Adams was optimistic over that prospect. “Thank you for your trust in Portland,” Adams told the company. “We’re just thrilled that you have chosen your foothold in North America to begin here, and from your base in Portland, we want you to take over North America.”
Kevin Manahan is the online editor for Oregon Business.
|A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy|
|Woman of Steel|
|Kill the Meeting|
|Mergers lucrative for departing CEOs, but not necessarily shareholders|
|Senators ask, but get no real answers regarding safety from air bag executives|
|Senate investigation says Wall Street misused commodities businesses|
|Amazon says its cloud services will run on renewable energy|
|Home building falls in October due to apartment sector|
|Dollar hits highest point against Yen since 2007|
|Investors wonder if OPEC cutback is imminent|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
Plenty of employers seem “dazed and confused” after the recent vote to legalize marijuana. In light of Measure 91 passing, what are some issues for private-sector Oregon employers to consider?
Rotary’s Oregon Ethics in Business aims to raise consciousness about business ethics by honoring exceptional companies.
Barran Liebman’s annual employment law seminar is an industry classic.
Is my drug-free workplace policy up in smoke?
More than 400 "Change Makers" will gather to invest in a socially sustainable community.