With its mix of major international brands, Hong Kong is a magnet for shoppers from all over the world. The city's competitive retail market is considered by many fashion and accessories brands as an ideal launch pad for expansion into overseas markets.
One of the mainland's leading brands of trendy sportswear, Xtep, has set its sights on the vibrant retail market in Hong Kong. Owner of the brand Xtep International Holdings has established a retail operation in the city and will embark on major expansion in the next few years. It aims to boost the workforce at its Hong Kong operation by recruiting more designers and specialists in distribution, wholesaling and brand retailing, says Terry Ho Yui-pok, chief financial officer of the sportswear company. Xtep's team for the brand retailing and product development operation in Hong Kong consists of designers, global marketing specialists, retailing managers and finance specialists. It has opened three retail outlets as part of the Disney Sport brand here.
"We are implementing a multibrand business expansion strategy and aim to expand our retail sales in Hong Kong and the Greater China region, and then diversify sales into overseas markets," Ho says.
The company plans to strengthen the workforce at its Hong Kong operation first. "Our Hong Kong operation functions like a platform for overseas retail sales expansion," he says. "The experience and expertise we are developing through operating retail outlets in Hong Kong are expected to help facilitate our sales diversification into overseas markets through partnership and franchising arrangements with local distributors."
Specialising in fashionable lifestyle and sportswear clothing, footwear and other accessories, the design team of Xtep develops its product lines and collections based on themes. Featuring the brand's combination of high levels of functionality and stylish designs, all items in the same collection complement each other.
The company seeks to recruit more designers who are versatile in developing designs of clothes and other accessories, and have about five years of work experience in the fashion industry.
"Individuals should possess acute alertness to international fashion trends," Ho says. The designers based in Hong Kong are expected to work closely with the 500-strong R&D (research and development) and design divisions at its main production centres across the border that also employ designers from the mainland and South Korea.
The company needs specialists in sales and marketing for overseas markets. They must have five to 10 years' experience. The specialists should have extensive networks in fashion retailing outside the mainland and Hong Kong, Ho says. Xtep will focus on franchising arrangement with local partners and working with distributors in individual markets to leverage their expertise and in-depth knowledge of the specific requirements and tastes of consumers in the different markets.
Employees should have excellent communication and presentation skills, Ho says. The company provides a lot of career progression opportunities for its employees. "We are a fast-growing enterprise committed to long-term business expansion plans and strategies to tap into the thriving retail markets in Hong Kong and [the mainland]," he says. "We aim to be the largest sportswear brand in China and will put tremendous resources into business development which will enable individual employees to fully realise their potential."
The company sees global growth potential for trendy sports and lifestyle apparel and accessories. It is optimistic because the nature of sportswear and related accessories has undergone major changes and they are no longer limited to specific sports activities. Because sportswear and accessories have become more design-orientated, their appeal to many fashion-conscious consumers has been growing and demand rising steadily.
Xtep has carved itself a market niche for trendy sportswear and lifestyle fashion items, priced from HK$200 to HK$300.
It is the third largest sportswear brand on the mainland in terms of sales volume. It operates more than 5,800 outlets under the Xtep brand in partnership with distributors and franchisees.
- Xtep plans to increase the workforce of its Hong Kong operation to expand its local and overseas retail networks
- Looks for experienced professionals with various specialisations, including design, sales and marketing and retailing
- The company provides a lot of opportunities for the career development of its employees