Anta Sports, a prominent Chinese athletic wear company, announced on January 18 its largest personnel adjustment since listing publicly 16 years ago. The moves have seen Ding Shizhong step down as CEO while remaining as chairman of the board of directors, and other positions and core executive functions have also changed.
Lai Shixian, CFO of the group, and Wu Yonghua, CEO of Professional Sports Group, will serve as co-CEOs of the group respectively, effective from February 1. Zheng Jie, the former president of the group and CEO of Outdoor Sports Group, will step down from related businesses, remaining as executive director of the group and CEO of Amer Sports. It is believed that this move strengthens the likelihood of Amer Sports’ splitting off and listing independently. In addition, Ding Shijia, the executive director and vice president of the firm, is no longer responsible for supply chain management, but will continue to be responsible for production functions. Bi Mingwei will serve as the CFO.
According to a report by LatePost on January 19, the core adjustments include that various functional authorities scattered across various brands will be integrated into the firm, and the CEO of Professional Sports Group will be Xu Yang, who has worked in Anta for 16 years. In addition, the Southeast Asia International Business Department was established, and Wang Huayou, president of retail business of the group, was appointed as the person in charge of the business of various brands in the Southeast Asia market.
Anta has three major brand groups: professional sports, fashion sports, and outdoor sports. LatePost said that the second one was split into Descente and Kolon.
Lai Shixian will be in charge of the professional sports group, Descente, Kolon, legal affairs, administration and purchasing departments in the future. Wu Yonghua will be in charge of the fashion sports group, Southeast Asia International Business Department, Hong Kong Retail Operation Department, Group Affairs Department, Group Channel Department and Group Sports Marketing Department in the future.
The Group Channel Department and Group Sports Marketing Department were newly established. The first one is intended to integrate the channel resources of the group and be responsible for the expansion and maintenance of major customers nationwide. The second one is responsible for the development and operation of sports resources of various brands, public relations work in Beijing, and group purchase business of relevant institutions.
Pressure brought about by the pandemic accelerated the implementation of this major adjustment. In April 2020, Ding Shizhong said that if there hadn’t been a pandemic, some management problems may not have been discovered for many years. Anta actually greeted the change five years ahead of schedule.
With a market value of HK$316.1 billion, Anta is already the number one sports brand in China, equivalent to Lululemon in global scope and second only to Nike, surpassing Adidas. According to the announcement, the benefit of the adjustment lies in “better implementing the group’s multi-brand and globalization strategy.”
After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Anta stood out from a number of domestic sports brands caught in an inventory crisis, and imitated international brands to carry out retail reform in time, thus breaking away from the challenge. Since 2009, Anta has acquired high-quality brands overseas.
From 2018 to 2019, Anta experienced a crazy growth rate of over 40%, but the number decreased obviously in the three years of the pandemic. From 2020 to the first half of 2022, the annual revenue growth rates of Anta were 4.7%, 38.9% and 13.8% respectively. Today, the problems Anta faces include the main brand’s growth difficulty and Amer Sports’ loss.
At the 2022 annual work summary meeting of Anta in early January, Ding Shizhong talked about enterprise management in his eyes. “We must adhere to the long-term strategic strength, continuously improve the scientific and technological research and development capabilities and brand value, and have the ability to survive extreme challenges,” said the executive.