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Chinese sportswear retailer Li Ning launches in-store coffee concept

The Chinese sports apparel brand is hoping to leverage its extensive retail presence with a new in-store coffee concept that is already present in several outlets and has the potential to rival Starbucks and Luckin Coffee in terms of scale

A Li-Ning store in Sichuan, China | Photo credit: via Shutterstock

Chinese sports retailer Li Ning has applied to register its Ning Coffee brand with the China National Intellectual Property Administration. The company already operates coffee in-store coffee shop concessions at stores in Beijing, Xiamen and Zhanjiang. 

Li Ning hopes that the new coffee business will enhance its in-store consumer experience. Images circulated online in May show the concept's roll-out in Xiamen, with the outlets logo, menu, café bar and seating all displayed. 

By adding coffee into its 5,872-strong brick and mortar sportswear stores, Ning Coffee could challenge China's largest coffee chains Luckin Coffee and Starbucks China, which have 6,000 and 5,500 stores respectively. 

Li Ning has collaborated with coffee brands in the past. In 2020, the clothing brand collaborated with Costa Coffee on a T-shirt range.

The company's foray into the coffee market follows a similar move by US designer clothing brand Ralph Lauren, which opened its first Ralph's Coffee shop on the Chinese mainland in Beijing in April. 

Similarly, China's country’s state-run post office China Post opened the first Post Coffee store in the Xiamen International Trade Building in February 2022. 

Coffee consumption and café consumption is rapidly gaining traction in China, making the east Asian nation a key growth market for domestic and international coffee chains alike. World Coffee Portal data forecasts China's total branded coffee shop market will exceed 31,700 outlets by 2025.

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