PARIS — Adidas is poised to grow in China.
The Herzogenaurach, Germany-based sporting goods maker struck a deal with Chinese Wanda Group to develop soccer and basketball at all levels in China and beyond, the company said on Tuesday.
Soccer is a major growth factor for Adidas in the region, and the brand said it was especially keen on forging relationships with local Chinese teams.
“China is one of the most important markets for Adidas globally,” said Adidas chief executive officer Herbert Hainer.
Wanda is a fellow official sponsor of FIFA, soccer’s governing body, and has earlier this year signed a long-term partnership between its Infront Sports and Media subsidiary and the International Basketball Federation.
The deal between Adidas and Wanda will directly result in commercial expansion “throughout major and lower-tier cities in China, an important pillar of Adidas’ recently launched five-year strategy,” it said, adding that Adidas “plans to open Sportswear Collectives as well as other large-format stores throughout Wanda’s extensive portfolio of shopping malls and other commercial properties.”
Sportswear Collective is a new retail format developed especially for China that fuses style and performance, as opposed to offering just Adidas Originals products, or performance. The first Sportswear Collective store opened in 2015, first in Chengdu, then at Shanghai’s Global Harbour. A third venue followed this year in January at the Crystal Galleria mall in Shanghai’s Jing’an district.
Adidas runs a total of 9,000 stand-alone units across Greater China in more than 1,000 cities.
“By 2020, we plan to open 3,000 additional stores — 500 of them this year alone,” a spokeswoman for the company told WWD.
On Tuesday, soccer star David Beckham was on site to inaugurate the world’s first Adidas soccer store at Teemall, in the city of Guangzhou.
Colin Currie, managing director of the Adidas group in China, observed how the opening said “a great deal about the maturity of the sport in China. We also want to engage with a new generation of Chinese soccer lovers and future stars through our grassroots initiatives.”
Beckham, who is a long-time Adidas ambassador, already played ball with some 30 local primary school students in Guangzhou on Monday as part of the grassroots program. Adidas has a three-year partnership with the Ministry of Education, launched in 2015, through which it hopes to reach some 20 million students in 20,000 primary and middle schools across the country to inspire “lifelong physical activity and involvement in soccer.”
The agreement between Adidas and Wanda will also make the German sporting goods giant the sole sports brand sponsor of Wanda’s Ironman brand as well as its parent company, the World Triathlon Company, which it acquired in 2015.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.