(Reuters) - In 2010, former Chinese gymnast Li Ning led a surging $4 billion sportswear business, a gold-medal pinnacle echoing his victories at the 1984 Olympic Games.
Now, the Li Ning (2331.HK) business is more reminiscent of the ex-sportsman's exit from the 1988 Olympics without a podium finish. As customers have turned to aspirational global brands like Nike Inc (NKE.N) or cheaper local firms, Li Ning has racked up heavy losses, losing four-fifths of its market value.
The company has long pinned a turnaround plan on targeting trendy, fast-growing areas of sport in China, like basketball, hoping to attract younger consumers with a mid-range pricing strategy. But company watchers fear what Li Ning sees as the middle ground could turn out to be a no-man's land, while still-loyal older customers may be turned off by the focus on youth goods.
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