August 16, 2022

They Flocked to China for Boom Times. Now They’re Thinking Twice.

While Mr. An said he is concerned about the economic slowdown, he remains optimistic that the market for health products in China, and a familiarity with ginseng — an aromatic root said to have health benefits — will continue to benefit sales. To hedge his bets, though, he is also seeking regulatory approval to sell in Europe.

That is a far cry from the unbridled optimism of the past.

In 2016, when China was its fastest growing and most profitable market, Kasper Rorsted, the chief executive at Adidas, declared that the country was “the star of the company.” Adidas invested aggressively to expand its foothold. It went from 9,000 stores in China in 2015 to its current 12,000, though only 500 are operated by Adidas. Then the music stopped.

After initially projecting that sales in China would accelerate this year, Adidas ratcheted down expectations in May as Covid lockdowns continued to spread. The company said it now expects China revenue to “decline significantly” and that a sudden rebound is unlikely.

For now, Adidas remains undeterred. Mr. Rorsted said on a call with analysts that the company is not planning to slash costs or pull back from the country. Instead, it will “do whatever we can to double down and accelerate the growth.”

Many foreign companies had bet on the rise of a Chinese middle class as a dependable source of that growth. Bain Company, a consulting firm, said it expects China to be the world’s largest luxury market by 2025, fueled in part by what Federica Levato, a senior partner, said is still “a big wave” of a rising middle class.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/28/business/economy/china-foreign-business-economy-covid.html

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