“I wanted to write short stories”: Canada Goose boss talks about running the family business and finally gave up fur

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Dani Reiss, who has run the outdoor luxury brand for 20 years, says “now is the time” to go without fur

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Dani Reiss, the billionaire longtime boss of Canada Goose, didn’t want to work for the family business growing up.

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At 18, he travels through Europe with a friend and recounts his adventures. He then studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Toronto in his hometown.

“I never thought I would end up doing this,” says the 48-year-old, who took over the luxury business in 2001. “I wanted to write short stories.”

His parents wanted him to make his own way too. The family ended up growing the nascent manufacturer of woolen vests, raincoats and snowmobile suits, which Reiss’s immigrant grandfather had created in 1957, as globalization accelerated and manufacturing shifted. abroad.

“In fact, all my life, they’ve been telling me, ‘whatever you do, don’t do that, it’s too hard,'” says Reiss, sitting cross-legged, ankle to knee, in an armchair near the window of the Grand Premier Suite at the Rosewood Hotel in London.

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He is impeccably dressed in a monochrome outfit: white shirt, black pants, dark gray jacket, chunky black leather Canada Goose boots.

He maintains his seated position – also known as the “American figure four” – for most of the interview. The position is meant to be used by people of a competitive or dominant and authoritarian nature.

This is how Reiss appears when he gives pragmatic answers to my questions.

An employee checks a finished jacket at the Canada Goose Inc. manufacturing plant in Montreal.
An employee checks a finished jacket at the Canada Goose Inc. manufacturing plant in Montreal. Photo by Christinne Muschi / Bloomberg

“My parents offered me a temporary three-month contract to earn money for my travels, then I did another three months and finally decided to stay,” he says. “I liked it.”

Reiss made it a $ 903 million outdoor luxury brand with annual sales of just $ 3 million when he took over. Canada Goose went public in 2017, with the stock rising 188% from US $ 17 to US $ 49. He brought manufacturing back to Canada. “If you go back 20 years, the only people who would have heard of this stuff were people who lived and worked in the coldest places on Earth, and so we brought this knowledge to urban centers.” , he said.

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To broaden her appeal, she now sells knitwear, fleeces, hats, gloves and shoes around the world, in addition to her basic thick coats that have been donned by Hollywood elites, polar explorers, hobbyists. of Folie Douce and the participants of Davos. But the company has also had its fair share of detractors.

Over the years, he has come under criticism for selling parkas trimmed with coyote fur.

In the UK, two activists protested for 15 months outside his Regent Street store in London and the Leeds store Flannels was targeted in 2019 for stocking Canada Goose.

Canada Goose said in June that it would stop buying fur by the end of this year and stop using it on its products by the end of 2022. We decided, you know , that it was the right time to do it right, ”says Reiss.

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“We feel very comfortable being able to create jackets that are as functional as before without using any fur, and it’s just more durable. It wasn’t an instant decision, it was something we had been thinking about for quite some time.

When asked if he should have banned fur earlier, the boss replied that “everything had happened at the right time” and “I don’t think it would have changed anything significantly though. we had done it earlier “.

Jackets hang in the showroom of the Canada Goose factory in Toronto.
Hooded jackets lined with fur hang in the showroom of the Canada Goose factory in Toronto. Photo by Mark Blinch / Reuters files

With protests largely out of sight, Canada Goose should be able to focus its efforts not only on sustainability, but also on its broader strategic goals.

The retailer plans to sell more products across its 40 stores and website, while moving away from third-party retailers. This reflects similar moves from Nike and Adidas, allowing companies to keep more profits.

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The pivot initially confused investors, with stocks falling in August, but they rebounded after strong quarterly sales in October.

It also announced that it is upping its forecast for the full year and unlike the rest of the world which has been plagued with supply chain issues, it has plenty of materials to meet demand for this year. and next year.

  1. A Canada Goose flagship store in the Sanlitun district of Beijing, China on December 31, 2018.

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  2. Canada Goose Holdings Inc. will stop purchasing fur by the end of this year and stop manufacturing fur no later than the end of 2022, the company said Thursday.

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  3. An employee arranges a logo patch in a sewing machine at a Canada Goose manufacturing facility in Montreal.

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Although he has run Canada Goose for two decades, Reiss is in no rush to resign.

“I don’t intend to do anything else, that’s for sure. I am very happy to do what I am doing.

“We are a different company every year. My job changes every year, so the jobs of many other people change every year as well.

“Change is something that people need to be comfortable working in a rapidly growing environment, but it’s also an environment that offers opportunity and, you know, enthusiasm. “

The daily telegraph

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