Uygurs learn what's in a name

Updated: 2014-04-22 08:42

By Cui Jia and Gao Bo (China Daily)

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Uygurs learn what's in a name

A baker works naan bread at a branch of Abula's Naan in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygure autonomous region. [Chen Yan / For China Daily]

The first Ugsport store opened in 2013, and the company now has 18 outlets across the region, including its small flagship store in Urumqi, where many of the garments on display bear simple slogans such as "Come on!" and "Champions!" in Uygur.

"Our designer is a soccer fan too, and he has incorporated features from a number of ethnic groups in the designs - traditional Kazak patterns, for example - which makes our clothing really distinctive and sets us apart from other sporting brands," said Aniwar, a 32-year-old graduate of Xinjiang Agricultural University.

Although the regional government has introduced a number of preferential policies to encourage people from ethnic groups to start their own businesses, many fail within three years because of management problems or inferior product quality, he added.

Quality is a subject close to Aniwar's heart: "Like the large international companies, the most important issue for us is the quality of our garments. We need to be as good as they are."

Ugsport's clothing was initially made by a company in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, but the quality didn't meet Aniwar's standards, so manufacturing was moved to a contractor in Fujian province, the main production base for Nike and Adidas in China.

"Although the scale of our business is nowhere near those of the big domestic and international brands, we must be creative and think big. The Uygur market is small in relation to China's huge population, but if we target our customers well, we will be successful," he said.

As part of a marketing blitz, Ugsport will sponsor a local TV program on soccer during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Brazil in June, and the sportswear range will expand into the children's market later this year.

Aniwar has also enrolled on a Master of Business Administration weekend course which starts in May. "We need to improve our management standards so the company can have a promising future."

However, not all Uygur businesspeople show as much foresight, according to Chen Chun, deputy director of the trademark department at the Xinjiang Administration of Industry and Commerce.