Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada Goose looks far afield for jacket sales

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TORONTO -- The head of Canada Goose is setting his sights on India and other parts of Asia as he looks beyond cold weather for future growth in the jacket business.

Dani Reiss concedes that stocking shelves in warm climates might seem unusual, but he says it makes sense for the company's high-end outerwear, which has become a fashion statement as well as a way to stay warm.

"Cold is relative. Tokyo is our best market in Asia and it never goes below zero," the chief executive said in an interview at the company's headquarters in midtown Toronto.

"Just like someone in Toronto buys a Range Rover, someone in Tokyo buys a Canada Goose jacket."

Canada Goose is at a turning point.

Take a glimpse of any city street this time of year and you'll likely see Canadians wrapped in the jackets emblazoned with the company's trademark badge on the sleeve and a fur-trimmed hood.

Each jacket costs between $500 and $1,200, depending on the style, and while that qualifies as a prestige product, its popularity transcends other pricey brands.

Reiss wants to boost the company's reputation beyond Canada where it sometimes seems as if the jackets couldn't get any more popular.

Last week, Canada Goose struck a deal with Bain Capital that gives the U.S. private investment firm a majority stake in the brand and promises the kind of financial support that will help it push into new markets. Reiss will maintain what he calls a "significant minority position."

Bain Capital, which manages about $70 billion in assets, has a history of investments in Canada.

The Boston-based private equity firm spent $2.55 billion to buy a stake in Shoppers Drug Mart (TSX:SC) before selling most of it off over a five-year period.

Bain was also part of a group of investors who paid $960 million for Bombardier Recreational Products and more recently, the firm acquired a stake in Dollarama (TSX:DOL), the successful discount retailer.

"What Bain Capital really likes is the reputation," said David Detomasi, assistant professor of international business at Queen's University.

"They'll consider expanding the brand beyond just coats."

Think Canada Goose watches, sports equipment or even down duvets that are marketed as the warmest bedding in the world. While the company hasn't laid out any ideas yet, the possibilities are limitless, as long as Canada Goose maintains its reputation.

"For us, we're always very careful with our product extensions," Reiss said.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 16, 2013 B6

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