Li Ning Struggles To Gain Foothold In U.S. Market, Asserts Commitment To Portland
Li Ning Sports USA's Portland staff “has shrunk by half, from about 30 employees last year to about 15,” and the state of Beijing-based parent Li Ning “appears to be in equal flux,” according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. A deal with Champs Sports that “was intended to give the brand its biggest reach yet into the American retail market" has ended, and a line of running shoes designed in Portland has an uncertain future. Sales for the first two quarters at the parent company “have been disappointing.” Three of Li Ning's “top executives resigned on Tuesday,” and the stock value “has fallen more than 10 percent this week.” Despite that, Li Ning Sports USA GM Jay Li said that the company “remains committed to Portland.” The company last August announced its Champs deal, placing Cavaliers G Baron Davis’ “BD Doom” shoes and apparel “in about 70 stores, primarily on the West Coast.” Li confirmed that Li Ning products “are no longer in Champs,” but said that the Portland office and Beijing HQs “remain interested in finding other ways to attract American consumers to its basketball brand.” Brettman reports the Li Ning USA office last September also was “seeking to break into the U.S. specialty running shoe category.” Its Portland staff “designed a handful of shoes to be manufactured in China for the U.S. market.” Fit Right Northwest was the “first specialty retail store to carry the Fremont,” the company’s first running shoe for the U.S. market. But Fit Right Northwest co-Owner Robb Finegan said a Li Ning representative informed Fit Right Northwest that "everything is shutting down here in the U.S." (OREGONLIVE.com, 5/25).