Chinese sportswear company Li Ning reported “a deeper-than-expected annual loss, its first in nearly a decade as a listed company," according to Chu & Burkitt of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Li Ning added that its bottom line "should improve this year as it scales back inventory and overhauls its image." Exec Chair Li Ning said, "In the next two to three years, the industry will still see a lot of restructuring, but I think we can say we've survived the most difficult time." Exec Vice Chair Jin-Goon Kim said that the company “may close additional stores" in '13 after having cut 1,821 stores last year to its current 6,434. The company is "in the midst of a three-year restructuring plan." Li Ning said that it "swung to a 2012 loss" of $318.8M, citing "inventory buildup and stiff competition." Kim said that the company’s inventory levels are "now at healthy levels, and the company is focused on ‘winning (in China) big time before we focus on the overseas market.'" He added that while the company "will need to raise additional funds to improve its cash flow, it has no timeline for doing so." Li Ning said that to broaden its appeal to Chinese consumers it would "focus on its core Li Ning brand of apparel and footwear and de-emphasize the Lotto sports fashion brand" (WSJ, 3/26).
British government sources said that foreign players traveling to England for the 2015 Rugby World Cup "will not receive tax exemptions," according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. Tax breaks "have been agreed for the footballers of the two Champions League finalists," which play at Wembley in May, and "the athletes coming to London for the Diamond League in July or Commonwealth Games in Glasgow." However, the Int'l Rugby Board did not apply the government for the same exemptions, which means players "will face being taxed on any earnings during the six-week tournament." A U.K. government source said: "These exemptions are agreed on a case by case basis and there has been no application for the Rugby World Cup" (PA, 3/26).