Chinese are mad about soccer. According to Nielsen, 31% of urban Chinese residents say they’re interested in soccer, and that number is growing steadily. China announced its plan to become a world soccer superpower in April last year. Its targets include:
— Having at least 20,000 soccer training centers and 70,000 pitches by 2020, and one pitch for every 10,000 people by 2030.
— Developing a women’s soccer team that’s world-class by 2030. China’s women’s team currently ranks 13 in the world, down from a high of 5 in 2003.
— Making sure the men’s soccer team becomes one of the best in Asia by 2030, and one of the best in the world by 2050. China’s men’s team ranks 84 in the world, down from a high of 37 in 199.
The development of a soccer culture will foster other social phenomenas, and 5-a-side is certainly one of those.
Under these assumptions, 2 french graduates from Paris famous business schools Hec and Essec, decided to launch a start-up business called 5 Factory and immediately attracted the interest of French entrepreneurs who invest heavily in China, and more importantly conviced PSG football club.
WSBSPORT was invited to have a seat in the Strategic Board of the newly born company together with Philippe Collin-Delavaud former CEO of the Sport Hub Singapour, Jerome de Chaunac CEO of Havas Sports & Entertainment and Guido Tommasi CEO of the Futbolclub, probably the world’s finest 5-a-side facility; WSBSPORT signed an agreement for the provision of soccer pitches for the first and subsequent facilities of the future 5 Factory network.
A LEAN APPROACH
The first choice was to use a “lean” approach: credibility is key, and a small sized pilot club, if profitable, will attract investors for future investments.
The lean approach was also adopted for the choice of the location: we discarded the option to rent or buy land and build a dedicated facility, instead we chose to rent a medium sized space in a commercial mall in Shanghai. This allowed for access to the mainstream public and for the possibility of new profit centers, like sport shops and restaurants. For the shopping mall, 5 Factory is a differentiated leisure opportunity.
Our know-how as operators of shop in shop concepts gave the clients the information to better negotiate the terms of participation of big brands like Nike in the project. This led to the opening of a state-of-the-art sport shop inside the 5-a-side club.
WSBSPORT has partnered with the client’s architectural firm in the preparation of the layout of the facility that finally opened in April 2018 under the name PSG PARK. The stunning decoration impressed the public during the great opening, where PSG was represented by Maxwell, the Brasilian player.
Due to the limited available space, but also in consideration of the specificity of Chinese culture where team sports are historically less important, we designed smaller pitches entirely sorrounded by tempered glass walls. A larger field is in the terrace adiacent to the indoor sport zone. The fields have been personalized at the image of PSG football club.
Construction-wise, in order to comply with Chinese regulations, most of the materials have been supplied by local companies giving us the opportunity to develop contacts for the benefit of the client.
One court out of five has been rented, so to remain within the budget.
WSBSPORT has great expectations for this project. It’s not granted that an Italian product opens its commercial path through China and not the reverse!