Canada Goose CEO vows to continue using animal fur, company shares soar in IPO

TORONTO — The head of Canada Goose vowed Thursday to keep using animal fur in its parkas rather than bow to activist pressure as shares of the luxury brand soared nearly 27 per cent in its initial public offering in Toronto.

“We’re not looking to change our plans (to use fur) in response to a loud but vocal minority,” said president and CEO Dani Reiss as the company made its debut on the Toronto and New York stock markets.

Reiss, whose grandfather founded the company 60 years ago, said Canada Goose has long used duck down feathers and coyote fur in its jackets and is comfortable with the practice because it is a “functional first brand.”

“Additionally to that, we make a lot of jackets,” he said. “A lot of jackets we make don’t have fur on them. We know that wearing different products is a personal choice and we offer products for everybody.”

For years, the company has been targeted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The animal-rights group has protested outside Canada Goose’s offices, run campaigns against the outerwear maker and recently said it plans on buying around $4,000 worth of shares so it can speak out at annual meetings. PETA has employed that tactic in the past with other companies such as Lululemon, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

Toronto-based Canada Goose started out in a small warehouse under the name Metro Sportswear Ltd. by Reiss’s grandfather, Sam Tick. At the time, the company specialized in snowmobile suits, wool vests and raincoats.

It designed its expedition parka in the 1980s to withstand the frigid conditions faced by scientists and trekkers working in Antarctica.

For the past few years, its jackets have surged in popularity among fashionistas and celebrities, once worn by model Kate Upton on the cover of Sports Illustrated. They’ve also been favoured by actor Daniel Craig, best known for his role as James Bond. Its most popular winter coats start at about $900.

According to its most recent filing, the company made a C$340 million debut on the Toronto and New York stock markets, selling 20 million shares initially priced at C$17 each. A majority of the offering, about 13.7 million shares, came from existing shareholders, but the remaining shares raised about C$100 million for the company before expenses, the filing said. The shares, trading under the symbol GOOS, rocketed at the open to $23.86 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, before settling back to $21.53 at the close.

The company’s owners include investment firm Bain Capital, which acquired a 70 per cent stake in Canada Goose in December 2013 for an undisclosed price.

Reiss said the company plans on opening 15 to 20 more stores worldwide in the next three years as part of an expansion plan that will see it grow in countries including China. It recently opened two retail stores in Toronto and New York and its products can be found in 36 countries.

He said being in so many countries and continuing to diversify into spring, rain and wind clothing as well as accessories such as tuques will help the company sustain sales during warm winters.

“The world weather patterns are changing. They’re more unpredictable than they ever were before,” said Reiss, adding that the brand is popular in Tokyo, which rarely sees snow.

Even so, he said the company doesn’t have any plans to lower its price points.

“We’re building this company for the long term,” said Reiss. “For us, it’s a long game.”

Canada Goose said it had revenue of $290.8 million and net income of $26.5 million in fiscal 2016, according to securities filings.

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