Li Ning Posts First-Ever Loss

Li Ning Posts First-Ever Loss
Exterior of a Li Ning store in Shanghai, China.

Chinese sportswear group Li Ning slipped into the red for the first time since it was listed in 2004, the firm said early Tuesday.

Citing fierce competition from domestic and foreign brands, and subsequent losses from inventory write-downs, the firm lost 1.98 billion yuan in 2012, or $318.7 million at current exchange. In 2011, it had earned 385.8 million yuan, or $62.1 million.

Revenue slumped nearly 25 percent to 6.74 billion yuan, or $1.1 billion, from 8.93 billion yuan, or $1.4 billion, in the previous year.

Li Ning, which competes with larger domestic rival ANTA Sports Products, as well as international giants Adidas AG and Nike Inc., struggled all year. It recorded a 2.02 billion yuan loss for the second half of 2012, nearly twice as much as market estimates. In the first half, profit slumped 85 percent to 44.3 million yuan.

Li Ning, backed by Singapore sovereign fund GIC and U.S. private equity firm TPG Capital, said in a statement that market and industry conditions continue to be difficult, and its financial performance is expected to remain challenged for at least the first half of 2013.

Meanwhile, the company continues to focus on its strategic plan, which aims to improve marketing, product merchandising and cost structure, and to enhance its sales channel profitability.