HONG KONG — Chinese sportswear maker Li Ning Co. Ltd. reported its third straight annual loss and said its namesake founder, a former Olympic gymnast, would return to the helm as interim chief executive officer.
The trouble company, which is being squeezed by large international brands as well as cheaper domestic competitors, has been without a ceo since November when Kim Jin-goon, an executive at private equity firm and Li Ning investor TPG Capital, stepped down.
Speaking at a press conference at the Langham Hotel, Li said he hoped to bring sustainable growth to the company in the next two to three years.
The company’s ambitious turnaround plan includes overhauling products, bulking up its digital presence through collaborations such as with Xiaoli and Marvel, updating stores and opening new stores – all while reducing costs and increasing operational efficiency.
“The next three years will be a critical time period for us to achieve breakthrough growth in our next stage of development,” he said.
The company reported a net loss of 743 million renminbi, or $119 million, for the full year 2014. The loss was more than twice as large from a year ago and its third straight year of losses.
The company also said that revenue for the year grew by 16 percent to 6.7 billion renminbi, or $1.08 billion, citing accelerated growth in the second half of the year.
Inventory mix older than 12 months was reduced to about 25 percent, down from 40 percent in 2012. New product mix from the current and past season was over 55 percent.
The company earlier this week announced a partnership with Xiaomi to create a “smart” running shoe, to be released later this month. Li held out hope Thursday that getting onto the Xiaomi platform would widen Li Ning’s customer base.