Li Ning Shares Rise Following Appointment Of Former Uniqlo Executive As Joint CEO

Li Ning Stock Prices
Li Ning sportswear store in Hanoi, Vietnam (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Phan Minh Tuan)

Chinese sportswear firm Li Ning saw its share prices jump following its decision to hire Uniqlo's Kosaka Takeshi as its joint chief executive officer. The company, which has seen its share prices quadruple in the last two years, is expected to get a big boost out in its performance following the hiring of the 15-year retail veteran.

Kosaka will be taking on the company's top position alongside its Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast founder, Li Ning. The Japanese-Chinese retail veteran formerly served as Uniqlos's chief operating officer for its Chinese unit. Prior to that, Kosaka was the CEO of Uniqlo's South Korean business unit.

Uniqlo is currently Asia's largest clothing retailer, with store close to 2,000 stores located worldwide.

According to Beijing-based sportswear maker, Kosaka will be taking the position as the company's joint CEO effective this week. Kosaka, alongside Li Ning himself, will be managing the company's various operations. This will include overseeing the company's supply chain, product development, and retail management.

Following the news of Kosaka's appointment, Li Ning saw its shares jump by as much as 5 percent in Hong Kong. The company's closed at HK$24.50 per share on Monday, reaching its highest level in over nine years.

Investors are expecting massive changes within the company given Kosaka's 15-year experience in the retail industry. Hangsheng Asset Management, one of Li Ning's stakeholders, is expecting improvements in the company's brand image amongst consumers as the new hire brings his better management expertise into its operations.

Market analysts are expecting a continued rise in Li Ning's stock prices as investor sentiment in the company increases. Investors do expect a lot out of Kosaka, who has had experience in different markets while serving various positions with Uniqlo and other companies.

Li Ning is currently one of the most well-known sportswear brands in China, fueled mostly by the popularity and fame of its Olympic gold-winning founder. The company went public in Hong Kong in 2004, which was then followed by years of flat performance as the company struggled to take on foreign brands and its domestic rivals.

In 2017, the company launched a massive overhaul of its business operations. The overhaul involved the simultaneous launches of dozens of physical stores to bolster its brand recognition. Li Ning also enhanced its e-commerce presence, which now accounts for a fifth of its total sales.

The overhaul worked wonders for the company, finally returning it to profitability after more than five years of losses. The firm then saw its shares quadruple in the next couple of years, thanks to drastic increases in its overall net income. For the first half of this year, Li Ning reported a 196 percent increase in its net income, a big jump from the 39 percent increase over the same period last year.

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