Living/Working January 4, 2018

Living/Working

January 4, 2019

B.C. fashion company dodges Huawei backlash in China

Prospering overseas, Vancouver fashion design house counts on easing of tensions

B.C. designer RozeMerie Cuevas, co-founder of Jac by Jacqueline Conoir: “we act as a bridge for other Canadian companies to come to China, because we’ve had so much success. So our hope is that people will continue to come, and business will continue as usual” | JAC by Jacqueline Conoir

The co-founder of a Vancouver-based independent fashion house that has quadrupled its business in China in the last few years said China-Canada tensions hang like a dark cloud over the heads of Canadian companies operating in China.

But RozeMerie Cuevas, who co-founded Jac by Jacqueline Conoir and saw the company expand exponentially after entering the Chinese market four years ago, said the brand has so far escaped the consumer anger targeting other Canadian businesses such as Canada Goose Holdings Inc. (TSX:GOOS), which had to delay the opening of a Beijing store this winter due to the growing backlash.

“What I can say is that the current situation is unfortunate for everyone involved, and I think everyone would like to see this go away very quickly,” said Cuevas, whose company now operates a factory in China and has 110 boutique stores across the country, 30% of which are owned and operated directly by the brand.

“I can’t say what will happen. Never say never; things change daily in the marketplace regardless of what industry you are in…. But as of now, our businesses have not been impacted by the situation, and we hope our customers will continue to support us.”

Canada Goose was forced to scuttle plans to open its Beijing flagship store in December after Chinese media ran stories calling for the boycott of Canadian brands. The stories were in response to the December 1 arrest of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. In addition, at least three Canadians have been detained by Beijing since Meng’s arrest.

After news of the arrest broke on December 5, Canada Goose stocks slid from $91.33 on the Toronto Stock Exchange to $62.15 on December 20 – losing close to a third of their value. Canadian retail industry observers say other brands that incorporate Canadian themes and have exposure to mainland China, such as Roots, may also be affected.

For Cuevas, Jac by Jacqueline Conoir’s mixed international profile and its strong uptake by its target audience of “confident, modern women” have meant the brand continues to be embraced by Chinese consumers, especially women in urban areas.

“I think a lot of that is because we are an international brand, and Chinese consumer tastes are becoming more sophisticated,” Cuevas said from her office in Hangzhou, China. “Our collection basically falls right into the right price point, the right value, the right design that consumers are interested in … and many of our franchise owners are Chinese women who have been successful growing to operate multiple stores, so the brand is making local women who are putting their trust into the brand successful as well.”

Jac by Jacqueline Conoir employs as many as 550 people in China, including at its head office, factory and retail outlets. That compares with an original staff of 15 in Vancouver’s 5,000-square-foot studio. Cuevas noted, however, that the number isn’t directly comparable because one of the key reasons the brand went into China was Vancouver’s lack of available industrial space for manufacturing, and Jac wasn’t able to hire as many people in Canada as it did in China because of that limitation.

Chinese academics with Canadian links agree with Cuevas that the public anger over Meng’s arrest has not reached a level where brands beyond Canada Goose are affected. Bo Chen, associate department chair of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics’ School of International Business Administration, said Canadians should not underestimate Chinese consumers’ understanding of the situation.

“For the moment, I don’t think the Chinese are angry enough to boycott Canadian unless Ms. Meng were to be extradited to the U.S.,” said Chen, who received his PhD from Simon Fraser University. “Many Chinese who are/were working or studying in Canada, including myself, would at least have well-exposed views to show their good understanding that Canada is indeed a passive player in this accident.”

But Chen also said there is no doubt that the Chinese public views the U.S. involvement in the case as “ridiculous,” and that the onus is on Canada to make clear that Meng’s court hearings are following pure judicial procedure.

“I totally understand that Canada has an independent jurisdiction system,” he said. “However, it does not mean Canadian government can do nothing to control the emerging damage. At least Canada can explain to the media – especially to those with Chinese background – in as much detail as possible … the reasons of the arrest, the ongoing legal process and what Canadian government can do and cannot do.”

Yves Tiberghien, director emeritus of the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian Research, agreed the government can take steps to protect Canadian businesses operating in China.

“If this is perceived as being unfair and arbitrary, which is the initial Chinese take, then there is potential for damage,” Tiberghien said. “For Canadian companies, it creates high risk and uncertainty; it’s in the Canadian interest to make this as clear, as well-informed and as fair as possible. It has to appear as something that’s purely judicial, that’s universally applied…. It’s dangerous for Canada to have this happen in a vacuum of information.”

Cuevas, who now also works to attract more fashion firms to southeastern China, recently welcomed 13 companies to Hangzhou to find potential partners in the Chinese market. She declined to speculate when asked if Meng’s arrest will chill Canadian interest in coming to China, only noting that the Chinese market has helped Jac so much that it is now looking for a Canadian partner to introduce much of its Chinese-market-tested collection back into Canada.

“We act as a bridge for other Canadian companies to come to China, because we’ve had so much success,” Cuevas said. “So our hope is that people will continue to come, and business will continue as usual.”

cchiang@biv.com

@chuckchiang3

 
Trending
 
Spending

Happy new beer! Here are the most anticipated B.C. brewery openings of 2019

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Ace Brewing Co. – Courtenay (summer 2019) 

The Comox Valley is getting yet another craft brewery; this one plans to pay homage to the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Another Beer Co. – New Westminster (early 2019)

This one has been on the drawing board for a while now, but it looks like ABC is creeping closer to reality with a facility on Capilano Way in Sapperton. 

The Bakery Brewing Co. – Port Moody (summer 2019)

Can Murray Street handle another brewery? Moody Ales’ Adam Crandall thinks so, and judging by the lineups on a Saturday night (or a Tuesday, for that matter), we think so too.

Barnside Brewing – Delta (summer 2019)

A true on-farm brewery started by four multi-generational farm families, Barnside will be growing all of its malting barley on-site in Ladner. 

Cloverdale Brewing – Surrey (spring/summer 2019)

Located near 176th St. and 64th Ave., the team behind this craft brewery has started construction and hopes to be pouring early in the new year.

Container Brewing- Vancouver (summer 2019)

This new craft brewery will be right at home in Yeast Van, just blocks away from Powell and Callister on Franklin Street. Tim Juul, formerly of Fort Hill Brewery in Massachusetts, is tapped to be the head brewer.

Copper Brewing- Kelowna (Summer 2019)

Kelowna’s exploding beer scene is shaping up to be the biggest story in craft beer for 2019. Copper Brewing is one of four new breweries planned for K-Town.

Dog Mountain Brewing – Port Alberni (summer 2019)

The Twin City’s second craft brewery is looking to open shop at the heart of Port Alberni’s historic downtown at Third and Argyle. Brewer/owner Robin Miles is hoping to offer sessionable classics and mixed fermentation experiments. 

Farm Country Brewing – Langley (summer 2019)

The first craft brewery in the City of Langley (Trading Post is technically in Langley Township), Farm Country hopes to open its tasting room (complete with patio!) next to the Cascades Casino by the summer. 

Fraser Mills Fermentation Co. – Coquitlam (late 2019)

The centrepiece for the new waterfront Fraser Mills development in South Coquitlam. Expect beer, wine, cider, mead, spirits and delicious food—everything you could ever want, really. 

Hakie Brewery – Squamish (2019)

The newest addition to the Sea-To-Sky beer scene has its branding and merch ready to go, but no word yet on the beer. 

Hatchery Brewing – Penticton (summer 2019)

This welcome addition to the Penticton beer scene will feature an open concept tasting room with seating for more than 250, barrel-aged beers and a food program to rival any restaurant in town. 

The Herald Street Brewery – Victoria (2019)

The good folks at The Drake Eatery and Steel & Oak Brewing are teaming up to make this brewery just north of downtown a reality. Given the people involved, it’s safe to say this place is going to be friggin’ sweeeeeet.

House of Funk Brewing – North Vancouver (spring 2019)

This brewery is going to get funky with its wild and Brett-fermented ales. The doors aren’t open yet, but cans of Funky Street, its recent collab with Streetcar, have already popped up in North Van.

Jackknife Brewing – Kelowna (late 2019)

Kettle River brewer Brad Tomlinson is moving right next door and opening his own brewery, promising a heavy metal edge and big weird beers.

Merridale Brewery and Cidery – Victoria (fall 2019)

Merridale’s spiffy new purpose-built boozatorium at Dockside Green in Vic West will feature a brewery, cidery, distillery, full-service restaurant, tasting room and retail space. This one is going to be spectacular. 

Mountainview Brewing – Hope (2019)

One of the last craft beer holdouts in the Fraser Valley will hopefully get its first brewery next year. Mountainview will be located on the Old Hope Princeton Highway at Fourth Ave.

Neighbourhood Brewing Company – Penticton (2019)

This new project from Yellow Dog’s Mike Coghill will be located at the corner of Westminster and Winnipeg, smack dab between Bad Tattoo and the Hatchery Brewing. Penticton was named the second best Beer Town in Canada this year by Expedia, and it looks like it’ll be gunning for No. 1 in 2019.

New Tradition Brewing – Comox (spring 2019)

Located at the Comox Centre Mall, New Tradition is just steps away from the former site of the Lorne Hotel, B.C.’s oldest licenced drinking establishment before it burnt down in 2011. 

Red Bird Brewing – Kelowna (2020)

This little tasting room at Baillie and Richter is set to take flight in 2020 with a new brewery right around the corner with a 10 hL brewhouse and food options. 

Rodeo Brewing- Surrey (2019)

Rodeo will be paying tribute to the Cloverdale’s cowboy culture and focusing on crisp, refreshing lagers. RodeoBrewing.com

Rumpus Beer Company – Revelstoke (spring 2019)

This funky little brewery and tasting room is opening up in downtown Revy and is going to focus on farmhouse ales and session-strength beers. 

Rustic Reel Brewing Company – Kelowna (summer 2019)

An ethically and socially conscious brewery focussed on creating community around craft beer. Also home to The Tackle Box, an artisan market featuring local crafts and goods from the Okanagan and beyond. 

Stanley Park Brewpub – Vancouver (summer 2019)

The historic Fish House restaurant in Stanley Park is currently being renovated by the eponymous beer brand owned by AB-InBev and will feature a full-service kitchen, tasting room and small batch beers brewed on site. 

Streetcar Brewing – North Vancouver (early 2019)

The tanks are in and the test batches are being brewed, the next stop for this Lower Lonsdale brewery is opening day! 

Superflux Brewing – North Vancouver (2019-ish)

Everyone’s favourite IPA-makers are working on getting a brewery of their own on the North Shore. No timeline yet for when that will happen, though. 

Tin House Brewing – Port Coquitlam (2019)

The craft beer floodgates have opened in PoCo. After being the largest municipality in Metro Vancouver without a craft brewery, the ‘burb saw two open last year and Tin House is poised to be the third. Conveniently located just around the corner from Northpaw Brewing on Sherling Place. 

Ucluelet Brewing Co. – Ucluelet (summer 2019)

Located in a former church, Ukee’s first craft brewery hopes to have a full beer and food lineup ready to go for the tourist season. 

The Wildwood Pub – Powell River (2019)

The former Red Lion Pub is getting a makeover and hopefully will be brewing it own beer before long.

• Got a hot brewery tip? Let us know at editor@thegrowler.ca

Editor’s note: This article has been edited after publication to include Container Brewing and to remove Four Winds, as the latter has indicated they do not anticipate a 2019 opening.

The Growler

 
Exploring

What are we reading? January 3, 2019

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Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

Kirk LaPointe, editor-in-chief:

The mountain of journalism decrying Donald Trump can be exhausting, but just when you think you’ve taken in enough, along comes another alarming piece. This one looks at the emergency powers he could declare, even over the objections of Congress and the courts, like martial law, Internet manipulation, and a severe restraint on civil liberties. - The Atlantic

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/presidential-emergency-powers/576418/

 

Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist, has been a predictable Trump critic in his column on all matters of finance. Here he picks apart the orthodoxy about the administration’s tax cuts, deemed by many to be one of its actual accomplishments, and argues that even negative coverage hasn’t been negative enough. - The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/01/opinion/the-trump-tax-cut-even-worse-than-youve-heard.html

 

Humourist David Sedaris starts the new year with one of his typical takes on family life, riven with acceptable exaggeration and fiction to make the point that getting old is not fun in the least. At least, not often. - The New Yorker

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/07/father-time

 

The Toronto Raptors have two major goals this NBA season: Get to the finals and keep Kawhi Leonard, perhaps not in that order. This lengthy piece looks at how the team that traded its franchise player for another franchise player is trying to keep Kawhi when he becomes a free agent in July. - ESPN

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/25620891/why-toronto-believes-convince-kawhi-leonard-stay

 

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Any chance leadership in the U.S. or China will pick up their iPhone or other communication device and resolve what is increasingly a lose-lose-lose trade war for participants on both sides of the Pacific? - South China Morning Post

https://www.scmp.com/tech/gear/article/2180493/tech-lobby-group-urges-trump-end-mutually-damaging-trade-war-after-iphone?

 

Time to buy Apple, bruised or otherwise, by its stock’s 30% drop from previous highs and fresh off its biggest one-day price drop in five years. - Seeking Alpha

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4231073-apple-great-buy-amidst-market-fear?ifp=0

 

Road-fixing robots to the rescue of the 21st century’s chronically traffic-jammed commuting public. - Lloyd’s Loading List

https://www.lloydsloadinglist.com/freight-directory/news/Road-fixing-robots-ideal-21st-century-solution-says-FTA/73526.htm?



Tyler Orton, reporter:

Three predictions for the future, according to billionaire tech titan Elon Musk. I remain skeptical about his timelines for the human colonization of Mars, but Musk seems on the mark regarding how soon we could see people hooking their brains directly to computers (we already have wearables, subcutaneous chips, etc.). - CNBC

 https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/31/tesla-ceo-elon-musks-predictions-for-the-future.html

 

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

This feature traces the falling fortunes of General Motors back to a strike by workers at the automaker’s Lordstown, Ohio, plant near the end of Richard Nixon’s first term in office.

GM’s response to that 1972 strike, the story says, “marked the beginning of the company’s long but uneven descent, which would be characterized by a repeated impulse to bet on fancy, futuristic but unproven technologies while undervaluing its workers.” - Quartz

https://qz.com/1510405/gms-layoffs-can-be-traced-to-its-quest-to-turn-people-into-machines/

 

Hayley Woodin, reporter:

A quick look at the world’s fastest economic growers and biggest shrinkers in 2019. One of the quickest movers is Vietnam, which is a member of Canada’s new CPTPP deal. Syria also stands out as the country that is expected to grow the fastest, “a sobering reminder that a high number can reflect the worst of starting-points.” - The Economist

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/01/02/the-fastest-growers-and-biggest-shrinkers-of-2019

 

As we go about our 2019 resolutions… Will you run from pain or run toward pleasure? By penalizing users with higher premiums or incentivizing them with rewards, companies are trying to answer whether wearable devices can make us healthier (and get us to run – or generally move – more). The follow-up question will be whether we want the Apples of the world collecting, analyzing and possibly sharing our health data. - The Economist

https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2019/01/02/will-wearable-devices-make-us-healthier

 

Carrie Schmidt, editorial researcher:

I deleted my Facebook account several years ago. It felt good. Five years ago, I deleted my Twitter account. That also felt good. More recently, I went through my address book and deleted with glee, and also unfollowed almost all of the accounts I have muted on Instagram. Here's a feel-good guide to conducting your own digital purge/protecting yourself from identity theft. - Consumer Reports

https://www.consumerreports.org/privacy/how-to-delete-online-accounts-you-no-longer-need/

 

 
Leading

Anonymity promoting more reckless attacks from social media rats

I am reminded of the old joke about the restaurant:

“Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?”

“The backstroke, I believe.”

If you don’t find that funny – understandable if not – there is a local similar situation even less amusing.
There aren’t many bread bowls of chowder that come served with a rat, so we should have smelled one during Christmas week when one of those anonymized social media accounts ran one of those contrived videos with one of those seemingly shocked (but strangely subdued) customers scooping out a rodent in her serving at Vancouver’s Crab Park Chowdery.

The video was upon almost every media site and shared across social over the holiday season, the ideal ironic digital diversion at a time of year we eat more than we can digest. It spawned “journalism” continents away and occupied Twitter streams, Facebook posts and Instagram feeds. Television newscasts warned of the “disturbing” imagery viewers would see, in my experience the most effective way to keep people tuned.

And because it happened over the holidays, the sluggish response was reminiscent of the Jonathan Swift quote: “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.”

The overall episode was ridiculous, but because for more than a few moments we in media fell into the froth, it served as an object lesson on the reckless reputational reality of today’s social platforms and the hazards for targeted businesses.

The Chowdery is an emerging, rustic Gastown joint that was sandbagged. Its soup kitchen was in the same building as Mamie Taylor’s, which was also side-swiped. The accuser got a refund and gift card at the restaurant.

A woman who said she was the friend of the person who posted the video did give one brief TV interview and later was on the defensive when a newspaper challenged her, so she wasn’t entirely inaccessible, but my guess is that we won’t hear from her again. The actual owner of the social media account hasn’t surfaced. I’m among dozens trying to get an answer. To be fair there remain a few mysterious elements in the story.

Thankfully, the grown-ups got in the room in due course. Vancouver Coastal Health Authority didn’t jump to any conclusion to precipitously descend on the supplier or the supplied, although it temporarily shuttered the kitchen. But the restaurant owner jumped in and spent time and money to investigate how the heck something like this could plausibly play out.

As far as common sense can tell, it couldn’t. First off, the rat was too big for the bread bowl to go unnoticed as it was prepared and served. To borrow a line we might wish to forget: if the rodent doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

We have been susceptible to memorable hoaxes, doctored photos and manipulated videos over the decades. We will believe, not necessarily because of insufficient media literacy (although that helps) but because of confirmation bias (it aligns with our beliefs, in this case that restaurants might be a bit sketchy with hygiene) and the sociological strength of the wisdom of the crowd.

The compounding headache today is the anonymity with which people can launch mischief and malevolence. The damage arising from the decline of personal accountability, particularly on social platforms, is only deepening. It doesn’t help that many media long since forfeited the discipline of verification; the race to be first is not always the race to be best.

Wearing my media hat, thinking of what it would be like to wear the restaurateur’s hat, I’m not sure it was wisest to at first apologize, even if that was the polite Canadian thing to do. Better to stand your ground and take on the outrage in the heat of the moment rather than take it on the chin and jeopardize your livelihood.
Yes, responsible media reasonably carried the restaurant’s eventual explanation of its processes and practices – and the vastly more believable conclusion that we’d been had. But I didn’t notice a proportionate antidote to the initial indignation on social.

I wandered by the Chowdery last week and business was bustling. The owner, in awfully good spirits considering he could have lost it all, invites everyone to pretty much sit in the kitchen and scrutinize the food prep. (Appreciate it, but no thanks.)

Seems he has the credibility to be believed and supported. In the oddest possible way, the worst possible publicity might have been good for business. •

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.

Editor’s note: This column has been updated to note the person who said she was a friend of the person who took the video did grant a television interview.