Chinese customers flock to Canada Goose’s first China flagship store opening despite calls for boycott

  • Long queues form on freezing-cold opening day as high-end jacket maker tries to make a mark in the world’s largest luxury market
  • Canada Goose’s stock has tanked since arrest of Huawei CFO Meg Wanzhou
PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 10:52pm

The first China flagship store of luxury parka-maker Canada Goose opened in Beijing to long queues despite tensions between Beijing and Ottawa over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

The 600-square metre flagship store, which opened its doors on Friday, was originally scheduled to kick off on December 15. Canada Goose delayed the opening, citing ongoing construction.

The delay came amid a furore in China over the arrest of Meng, which set off calls for boycotts of the high-end brand on Chinese social media platforms.

China is the world’s largest luxury market, and Canada Goose is part of a flood of upscale international brands trying to develop a fan base there. Other Canadian companies hoping to make a mark in China include fashion store Club Monaco, sportswear retailer Lululemon Athletica and cosmetics firm M.A.C. Doughnut retailer Tim Hortons plans to open is first store next year in mainland China and aims to have 1,500 branches in 10 years.

Canada Goose delays opening its first China flagship store amid tension over Canada’s role in the arrest of Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou

The brand had opened one pop-up shop before in Beijing, with jackets selling for more than $1,400, but the new store in the trendy Sanlitun neighbourhood is its first long-term physical presence in mainland China.

Customers waited outside the upscale Taikooli shopping centre on opening day for their turn despite freezing temperatures in Beijing, local media reported.

The stock price of the down jacket label has dropped by almost 40 per cent since December 3, the first trading day after Meng was detained.

“I expect a big rebound of Canada Goose stock price as winter sales come in. American brands such as Apple should be more impacted than Canadian brands, since this is between China and the US,” said founder of the China Market Research Group Shaun Rein.

Investors have been spooked as Chinese netizens called for a boycott of Canadian brands on the social media site Weibo, with Canada Goose being a prominent target. Consumers were encouraged to buy jackets from Chinese brand Bosideng instead.

Is Canada Goose cooked? Shares slide as Chinese buyers demand boycott over arrest of Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou

Calls and emails to Canada Goose’s China operations for comment were not returned.

In May, Canada Goose CEO Dani Reiss said China offers a “massive opportunity” for the company.

Beijing has detained two Canadian citizens and released another after a brief custody, in what appears to be retaliation for Meng’s arrest by Canadian authorities.

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The Huawei executive has been granted bail and is awaiting a date for her extradition hearing. Canada arrested Meng at the request of the United States on fraud charges related to Iran sanctions.

Apart from being caught up in the diplomatic feud between China and Canada, the parka brand is also facing competition from Chinese home-grown labels, such as Bosideng.

Bosideng used to be more associated with middle-aged Chinese men than fashionistas but it has been revamping its brand image in recent years. It got a boost from photos showing European celebrities such as Eddie Redmayne and Orlando Bloom wearing its coats.

Two days after the Canada Goose store opening in Beijing, US President Trump announced on Twitter that he had had a “very good call” with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, and a potential trade deal is progressing well – signalling a potential de-escalation of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.