On October 10, 2019, Topsports listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, raising $1 billion in proceeds. Topsports’ listing represents one of the largest IPOs in the region in 2019. Despite a rocky macro environment, the quality of the Topsports business and the differentiation of Hillhouse’s tech-enabled approach impressed investors. The IPO resulted in a market capitalization of over $7 billion for the standalone Topsports.
A little over two years ago, Hillhouse privatized Belle, which consisted of the world’s largest ladies shoe company and also a sportswear division (Topsports), in a $6.8 billion take-private transaction. Hillhouse’s efforts post-investment have focused on technology-enablement of Belle’s (and Topsport’s) one-of-a kind retail franchise. Work from a digital transformation perspective has been focused around three core strands: enhancing store operations and merchandising management and empowering Belle (and Topsport’s) over 70,000 frontline staff. Today, the company’s digital backbone is among the most innovative among retailers of comparable scale.
China’s sports sector remains vastly under-penetrated and continues to gain momentum. Separating Belle’s segments and shining a spotlight on the company’s sportswear business unlocks hidden value from within the group. Topsports continues to be a major beneficiary of growth within China’s sports sector as an important retail partner to Nike, Adidas and others.