West Meets East as Roots Launches Major Expansion in Asia
Sunday, 12 November 2006

Jeremy Hobbins (Group Managing Director of Li & Fung Retailing Ltd.), Gerry Campbell, (General Consul of Canada), Jaycee Chan (son of actor Jackie Chan), Roots Co-Founders of Roots Don Green and Michael Budman, actress Annie Liu, Bernard Pouliot (Chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce), Jeremy Tang (Director of Business Development, Li & Fung Retailing Ltd) and Ian Mcnabb (Executive Director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce).

TORONTO - Now more than ever, Canadian style is taking hold in the Far East. In a reflection of its increasing global presence, Roots has just launched the first phase in expanding its presence in Asia. Roots Co-Founders Michael Budman and Don Green took part in the official inauguration of the two Hong Kong stores in special ceremonies that attracted considerable local media interest.

Working in partnership with the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Trading Ltd., Roots is preparing to also open in China and other countries in Southeast Asia. Plans call for dozens of new stores in the next two to three years. Roots already has 20 stores in Taiwan, which are being operated by Li & Fung.

The stores in Asia will showcase many of the key components of the company’s success in North America including the highly popular leather bags, yoga wear and athletic apparel. The design of the stores will reflect the Roots emphasis on health, wellness, and protecting the environment. In-store imagery will pay tribute to the great Canadian outdoors, especially Ontario’s fabled Algonquin Park, a major inspiration for Roots since its inception in 1973. Many of the materials used in building the stores will be chosen for their environmentally friendly characteristics.

"We’re thrilled at this latest international initiative of Roots,” says Roots Co-Founder Michael Budman. “It’s part of a new era for Roots in which we will be developing the brand beyond the shores of North America. Asia represents an excellent market where people seem to have a great appreciation of foreign style, which augurs well for a brand like Roots.”

“Li & Fung is very excited to be working with Roots in building this unique Canadian lifestyle brand in Asia,” says Jeremy Tang, Director of Business Development of Li & Fung Retailing Ltd.“Given Canada’s very positive reputation for the great outdoors and a clean environment, these are two things we are really promoting to Roots customers in Asia to increase their awareness of air pollution and global warming. We are looking forward to working with the Roots team in Canada as part of our efforts to get the message out.”

Roots has long considered expanding in Asia but it was essential to have the right local partner with a proven track record and familiarity with Asian culture and business practices. When Li & Fung expressed interest in working with Roots in developing the brand in their part of the world, Michael and Don felt it was an auspicious sign.

Receently, Michael and Don spent a week in Asia participating in events to launch the new stores in Hong Kong, to join in the re-launch of the flagship store in Taiwan (located in the landmark Taipei 101 building) and to meet with Li & Fung staff to discuss plans for opening locations in China and other countries.

The Hong Kong launch included a major accent on environmental issues in keeping with the importance Roots has always attached to the subject. Air pollution is a highly topical issue in Hong Kong and to support moves to deal with the problem, Roots made it part of its launch campaign, supporting it with posters and information stands. Shoppers were invited to write a note voicing their concern about air pollution and then to insert it in a small bottle as part of an initiative called “Message in a Bottle.” During a 10-day period ending last week, 500 glass bottles filled with ‘green messages’ were exhibited at the Roots store in the LCX Ocean Terminal.

Also on view at the 1,600 square feet store were the winning submissions in an environmental photography contest that Roots co-sponsored with a local magazine. Michael and Don chose the finalists in the competition who received cash prizes, gift certificates to shop at Roots and copies of the book An Inconvenient Truth autographed by Al Gore. In addition also held a special private screening of Al Gore’s environmental film An Inconvenient Truth at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The grand opening of the store included a yoga demonstration, a fashion show, sharing of green tips, and presentation of prizes to winners of the photography contest. Michael and Don addressed the crowd, sharing green tips with the audience and presented souvenirs to Gerry Campbell, Canada’s Consul General in Hong Kong. One of the highlights was when they released fresh Canadian air from a compressed air tank shipped from Canada to kick off the fashion show.

Movie actress Annie Liu, who used to live in Toronto for many years, attended the event, taking part as a model in one of the presentations. Singer and actor Jaycee Chan (son of Jackie Chan) contributed his environmental ideas on protecting the environment and invited guests to put a message in a bottle.

It all added up to an exciting, well-planned launch of Roots in Hong Kong, and a harbinger of things to happen elsewhere in Asia with the Canadian brand. Based on initial signs, Roots should have a great future in its newest continent.

For further information contact:
Raymond Perkins, Director of Communications
416-781-3574 ext 319
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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