INTERVIEW-Camkids counts on China's pampering parents, IPO to fund expansion

Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:59am EST

Dec 11 (Reuters) - China's Camkids Group Plc, far from being discouraged by the country's one-child policy, is counting on doting Chinese parents and grandparents to boost their spending as the company looks to raise 5.75 million pounds ($9.25 million) on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) on Christmas Eve.

The outdoor sportswear company, which began in 1994 as shoe manufacturer for brands such as Geox and Fila, designs and distributes hiking boots, backpacks, sleeping bags and all-weather jackets under its Camkids brand.

"We are expecting the market for the children's apparel and footwear (in China) to grow at the rate of about 17 percent over the next four years," Chief Financial Officer Ng Pei Eng said.

"...One kid, they have two parents and four grandparents all focusing on and pampering the kid," Ng said, explaining the company's bullish outlook.

At stake is a market catering to the young that is worth about 1.1 billion pounds a year, according to the company.

Camkids, which had revenue of 74 million pounds and an after-tax profit of 16 million pounds in 2011, has 15 distributors operating more than 1,000 outlets in China.

But the fast-growing Chinese sportswear market is highly competitive, and local brands jostle for market share with the likes of Nike Inc and Adidas, which invest heavily in marketing and research and development.

Ng said Camkids, which focuses on the 8-to-18 age group, is not worried about competition from the global companies.

Camkids sold more teenage outdoor footwear in 2011 than any other brand or company in the country, according to third-party data supplied by the company.

"If you look at Nike and Adidas Kids, they are actually focusing more on general sports like basketball and running shoes but our focus is purely on outdoor activities," Ng said.

Outdoor sports are growing China as disposable incomes rise and better roads and more cars make it easier for people to get out of the city, she said.

China's 10th-biggest sportswear brand, Naibu Global International, listed on AIM in April. Its shares have since dropped more than 40 percent.

Camkids plans to use money raised through the IPO to expand from its base in Fujian province to Shanghai and Guangzhou as well as smaller cities.

The company, which is being advised by Allenby Capital Ltd, has said it expects to have a market capitalisation of about 66 million pounds upon listing.

The company plans to issue about 7.4 million shares priced at 88 pence per share.

($1 = 0.6221 British pounds) (Reporting by Karen Rebelo in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr)