The boss of Zadig & Voltaire has apologised for saying that Chinese tourists would not be welcome at an exclusive new hotel planned by the company in Paris.
Company founder Thierry Gillier told fashion industry journal WWD late last month: “We are going to select guests. It won’t be open to Chinese tourists, for example.”
The article has since been amended to remove the reference to Chinese tourists and instead refers to “busloads of tourists”.
But that did not stop outraged Internet users posting angry messages on social media and websites in China.
“This is obviously racial discrimination. Not every Chinese is uncultivated, there are many more who are cultured,” said one user on popular portal Sina.com. “I think this pretentious brand will lose an important market if it really turns down Chinese.”
In a statement released on Thursday, Gillier said the remarks had been taken out of context and apologised for any offence caused. “These reported words do not reflect either my line of thought or my ethics,” he said.
“My remarks were doubtless clumsy and, taken out of their context, I understand they might have hurt my friends from China, France or elsewhere, and I am deeply sorry for that.”
The hotel would be an “intimate address”, the statement said, adding that Gillier “admits he expressed himself in an inappropriate way to explain that his hotel was not suited to mass tourism”.