With Maia Active under its belt, Anta piles pressure on Lululemon, Nike

    Anta Sports is chasing the women’s sportswear segment in China through its acquisition of Maia Active. Can the group cement its leading position in the market?
    Photo: Maia Active
      Published   in Fashion

    What happened

    On October 16, Chinese sports giant Anta Sports announced it had acquired a 75.13 percent stake in Maia Active, a Shanghai-based sportswear brand, for an undisclosed sum. Once the deal is complete, Maia Active will become a non-wholly owned subsidiary of the group.

    In the announcement, Anta Sports remarked on Maia Active’s influence on female consumers, especially in the yoga category, and its future growth potential. “The acquisition is a good complement to the group's women's business segment and will enhance its ability to meet the diversified needs of consumers, further strengthening the group's brand portfolio,” it wrote.

    The Jing Take

    According to McKinsey & Company, women in China spend 15 percent to 20 percent more on sports and fitness than men.

    Lululemon is one brand already reaping the benefits of the expansion of the women’s sportswear market in China. In the quarter ended July 31, the Canadian company, which joined the S&P 500 yesterday, reported revenue growth in Greater China of 61 percent year over year. Lululemon plans to open 35 new stores globally this year, and many will be based in China.

    Maia Active can be thought of as China’s answer to Lululemon. Founded in 2016, the brand is best known for its fun, colorful yoga wear, and it boasts a competitive advantage in the local market thanks to its Asian fitting, offering apparel with a smaller bust and hip-to-waist ratio. In 2021, Maia Active’s omni-channel sales exceeded 300 million RMB (about 41 million), double that of 2019.

    Maia Active focuses on creating products that fit Asian women's bodies. Photo: Maia Active
    Maia Active focuses on creating products that fit Asian women's bodies. Photo: Maia Active

    Anta Sports’ purchase of the Chinese brand provides it with more opportunities to cater to the women’s sports community and explore new avenues of growth. Although Anta offers products for women under its various brands, including its namesake Anta label, Fila, and Descente, it doesn’t have a women-focused business under its belt.

    The acquisition comes as global giants double down on women’s sportswear. Nike has more than doubled its investment in women’s sports science, design, product, creation and storytelling in recent years; this has led to the launch of a new leggings series in China as well as several localized campaigns featuring Chinese athletes.

    Although Anta Group surpassed Nike China in the first half of the year with record-high revenue (generating $4 billion vs. Nike China’s $3.8 billion), it’s not enough just to be ahead. With another brand in its wheelhouse, Anta Group wants to leave competitors in its dust.

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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