The company was founded in 1989 by Li Ning, a former Chinese Olympic gymnast.
As of 2015, Li Ning remains the Chairman of the company's board of directors. In 2005, Li-Ning created a joint-venture with French sports apparel company, AIGLE, giving Li-Ning the exclusive right to be the sole distributor of AIGLE's products in China for 50 years In 2006, Li-Ning posted revenues of US$418 million, and total profits of about US$39 million. As of March 2007, there were 4,297 Li-Ning retail stores. The company directly owns some of the retail stores while others are franchised.
In January 2010, Li-Ning opened its U.S. headquarters and flagship store in Portland, Oregon. In 2010, as part of the &apros;Revitalization&apros; of the brand, Li-Ning released a new logo and the new slogan "让改变发生" "Ràng Gǎibiàn Fāshēng" in Chinese, translated to "Let the Change Occur" in English. In January 2011, Li-Ning entered into a partnership with Chicago-based Acquity Group to expand its U.S. distribution and brand awareness.
In April 2012, Li-Ning was awarded the highest distinction of "Outstanding Contribution to Quality Standardization Award" in knitwear division at the Third National Textile Standardization Technical Committee&apros;s inaugural meeting held in Zhuhai, Guangdong. In September 2012, Li-Ning signed into a partnership with NBA player Dwyane Wade.
In 2013, The Group recorded revenue of RMB2,906 million, which represents a decrease of 24.6% year-on-year, due to near-term focus on sell-in reductions, inventory clearance, and reducing the number of stores. The Group projected a net loss of up to 820 million yuan (US$13.19 million) for 2014, the third straight year where it was unprofitable.
In 2019, Li-Ning reported revenues increased 32 percen reached 13.87 billion yuan against 10.51 billion yuan a year ago. Net profit attributable to equity holders increased to ¥1.5 billion from ¥715.3 million which vaulted 110 percent.
In 2020, Li-Ning saw its revenue increase 4.2 percent year-on-year to 14.46 billion yuan ($2.22 billion), the net profit increased on a comparative basis by 34.2 percent to 1.7 billion yuan ($261 million).
In 2019, Li-Ning announced that it would not do business with the Houston Rockets after the General Manager of the NBA team tweeted in support of the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests.Also, Li-Ning along with Sunlight Sports Pvt. Ltd. (representative and distributor of Li-Ning in India) signed sponsorship deals with Indian badminton players P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth.