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PARIS – French fashion house Balenciaga, which is owned by French luxury group Kering SA, has issued a series of public apologies after reports of an altercation between Chinese and other shoppers in a Paris shop led to claims in China discrimination by store staff. The incident has attracted huge attention in China – a major market for Kering – with the hashtag #BoycottBalenciagaDiscriminatesAgainstChinese having been viewed 29 million times on Chinese social media platform Weibo. Two million comments have been posted.

Balenciaga was criticised for its treatment of shoppers at its Paris Printemps store after videos emerged of Chinese customers being forced to line up outside the location while French shoppers were allowed to enter. After queuers argued with staff, a scuffle broke out and Chinese customers were then asked to leave the premises and not return.

Balenciaga has been forced to issue a statement. It said: “The house of Balenciaga regrets the incident that took place yesterday morning at a department store in Paris while customers were waiting to enter its corner shop. The security staff acted immediately to restore the calm. Balenciaga sincerely apologies to customers who were present, and reaffirms its strong commitment to respect equally all its customers.

“The House of Balenciaga is firmly committed to the values of equality and diversity, and stands strongly against any kind of discrimination. As such, the House takes the incident that happened on Wednesday April 25th at its corner shop in a Paris department store very seriously.

“Working in collaboration with the department store, Balenciaga is investigating the matter thoroughly and taking steps to prevent similar reoccurrence. First given the seriousness of the incident Balenciaga has decided to temporarily suspend the management staff present during the event pending the results of this investigation. Balenciaga will take any necessary measures after the investigation is concluded.

“Secondly, in order to offer to its customers a shopping experience aligned with the House’s values, Balenciaga will implement a new standard, operation procedure. The House will introduce a new system for product launches and reinforce procedures for security staff, seeking to improve the experiences of all clients and limit waiting time.

“Balenciaga sincerely apologises to all Chinese customers and all other customers present at that time.”

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