Under Armour Is Using Hong Kong to Boost Asia Expansion Efforts

Under Armour is gearing up to become a major player in Asia.

A South China Morning Post report today stated the company has plans to open a regional headquarters in Hong Kong this year. Hong Kong, according to the report, was chosen due to its proximity to mainland China.

Also, the report revealed the firm’s product strategy.

According to president and COO Patrik Frisk, Under Armour will deliver premium performance-based products rather than fashion-focused styles. And to promote those products, the company will tap international, regional and local athletes including Chinese women’s volleyball star Zhu Ting and NBA sharpshooter Stephen Curry.

“What is going to be unique with us is how we think about performance in combination with looks, feel and aesthetics,” Frisk told the South China Morning Post. “It is the mindset of how are we solving problems for the athlete. We are not going to compromise on that, whereas perhaps our competition might just build something to look good because it is a trend. Time will prove us right.”

Citing Bloomberg, the South China Morning Post report states the company’s North American revenue increased by just 2.63 percent in the past three years whereas abroad it has grown 43.34 percent.

And China is important in keeping the momentum going internationally.

“China is the big machine in the region,” Under Armour’s managing director for Asia-Pacific Jason Archer told the publication. “If you combine a lot of the external focus on the region, as well as the Chinese government investing in sport, in health and wellness. That is just exciting for us — the macro landscape.”

Under Armour, according to the report, has plans to open 1,500 stores in the next five years with 73 percent of them opening in Asia, with China being the main focus.

Although the firm is working to sure up its business abroad, it has faced its share of challenges at home.

This month, Under Armour’s chief design officer Dave Dombrow left the company for the second time. (He exited the brand in early 2016 for Nike.) Dombrow was replaced four days later by 20-year footwear and apparel executive Kasey Jarvis, who last worked for Black Diamond Equipment.

And its North American business is still struggling. For Q4 2018, the company said sales in the region dropped 6 percent to $965 million. (Its international sales grew 24 percent to $395 million.)

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