Improvements in the way footwear is made along with an increase in the popularity of sportswear have created an abundance of new opportunities for certain suppliers. Among those suppliers is Shenzhou International, one of China’s largest exporters of fabric and garments, and its chairman, Ma Jianrong.

A former factory worker, Ma is currently worth an estimated $4.3 billion USD.

Over the years, Shenzhou has quietly turned itself into the largest integrated knitwear maker in the world -- think Flyknit, Primeknit, evoKnit, etc. Today, the company is responsible for significant percentages of big brands’ apparel as well: 12% of Nike, 12% of adidas, 14% of Uniqlo and 30% of PUMA.

In September, Citibank predicted those figures will increase by three to five percent by 2020. Sales in the first six months of the year increased by a quarter to exceed $1 billion. With such steady business, Shenzhou's stock has grown by more than 40% in the past year.

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