Zara Denies Rumors Stores Closed Due to Hong Kong Protests
People walk past a Zara fashion store in Seoul, South Korea. (Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Zara Denies Rumors Stores Closed Due to Hong Kong Protests

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(Bloomberg) -- Fast-fashion giant Zara denied speculation on Chinese social media that the retailer’s employees were supporting anti-Beijing protests that disrupted some of its store operations on Monday.

“Zara has never made any comments or undertaken any actions related to a strike in Hong Kong,” the company said in a post on its Weibo account. “Zara does not back a strike and supports ‘one country, two systems,”’ the post said, referring to a general strike called by unions as part of the protests, and China’s policy for governing Hong Kong.

Multinational businesses are becoming increasingly ensnared in the volatile conflict that’s morphed from a protest against an extradition law into a broader challenge to Beijing’s authority in the city. Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong’s biggest carrier, faced heavy pushback from China after its staff joined the demonstrations, while companies ranging from HSBC Holdings Plc to PwC have been the subject of online speculation over their positions on the protests, which have rocked the former British colony for almost three months.

Zara, owned by Spanish fashion conglomerate Inditex SA, seems to have been targeted after Chinese social media users noticed several of its Hong Kong stores were closed on Monday. Speculation spread that it was because staffers were taking part in the general strike.

All 14 Zara stores in Hong Kong opened that day, the company said in an emailed comment, though four sites did so later than usual because transport disruptions delayed employees’ journeys to work.

State-run tabloid Global Times said in an editorial earlier that regardless of the reason for its store closures, Zara should not “broadcast any suspicious signals like this at a time when Chinese society is being troubled” by the incidents in Hong Kong.

The newspaper’s English website said the brand was facing a boycott by Chinese consumers due to the incident, but the topic was not among the top-trending among internet users on Weibo, a social media platform similar to Twitter, as of Tuesday morning.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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