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31 Held in H.Kong Boutique Fracas

January 28, 2000

HONG KONG (AP) _ The Louis Vuitton boutique in one of Hong Kong’s fanciest hotels found itself under siege when a dispute over sales sparked a fracas that ended with 31 arrests.

Louis Vuitton employees suspected that some customers at the store on Thursday wanted to buy designer wallets and handbags only to resell them in Japan, where retail prices are about 30 percent higher. They refused to make any sales.

Sharp words were exchanged, and before long about 50 angry people had gathered outside the shop at the Peninsula Hotel and were trying to force their way in. Boutique employees called police, who calmed the commotion by arresting 31 people on disorderly conduct charges.

``It’s been very scary,″ Louis Vuitton spokeswoman Betty Leung said.

The company defended its refusal to do business with people it suspected of making unauthorized resales of its luxury goods.

``Louis Vuitton would not sell to these operators in order to safeguard our brand reputation, image and quality, as well as our customers’ interest,″ Serge Brunschwig, president of Louis Vuitton Pacific Ltd., said in a statement.

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