December 31, 2018 / 10:29 AM / 2 months ago

Canada Goose's first China store draws eager crowds despite diplomatic headwinds

BEIJING (Reuters) - Large crowds have been drawn to Canada Goose’s new outdoor wear store in downtown Beijing, its first in mainland China, since its opening on Friday, despite sub-zero temperatures and a chill in China’s relations with Canada.

A sign of Canadian luxury parka maker Canada Goose is pictured at its newly opened flagship store in Sanlitun area of Beijing, China December 31, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Pollard

A long line of shoppers in thick winter coats queued outside the two-storey store on Monday afternoon, with waiting times of an hour or more for a look at Canada Goose’s 9,000 yuan ($1,300) parkas.

Canada Goose staff were seen walking up and down the queue asking shoppers which product they were looking for and then telling them whether or not they had it in stock.

“It’s been popular for ages but Beijing didn’t have one, only Hong Kong. So everyone’s come to see it,” said Long Hua, 32, lining up outside the store with a friend.

Ties between China and Canada have turned frosty since the arrest of a top Chinese executive in Vancouver at the request of the United States in December and the subsequent arrest of two Canadians in China on suspicion of endangering state security.

Canada Goose opened its Beijing store about two weeks later than initially planned. It has made no connection between the delay and the heightened tensions between the two governments, saying earlier this month that the postponement was due to construction work.

On Monday, construction workers were still seen on scaffolding on one side of the store.

The Toronto-listed parka maker has made no mention of the Beijing store opening on its Chinese social media platforms, although the store in Beijing’s swanky Sanlitun district is now listed on the company’s global website.

“We are proud of our newest store in China and look forward to welcoming our fans,” Canada Goose said in an email to Reuters on Monday.

A buoyant sales outlook for mainland China has been shaken in recent weeks by some caustic posts on Chinese social media calling for the boycott of Canada Goose products following Canada’s arrest of Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL] Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

Shares of Canada Goose have fallen about 37 percent in Toronto trading since Meng’s detention and the ensuing strains between the two countries.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, faces U.S. allegations that she misled multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions.

Meng has said she is innocent.

The stakes are high for the maker of high-end goose-down coats, which enjoy significant brand recognition in China’s big cities.

Chinese customers account for more than a third of spending on luxury products worldwide, and are increasingly shopping in their home market rather than overseas.

Earlier this year, Canada Goose opened its first store in Hong Kong.

Reporting by Martin Pollard and Ryan Woo; editing by Christopher Cushing and Jason Neely

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