Jack Ma could give Amazon’s Jeff Bezos a run for his money in upsetting brands and retailers.
In a speech on Tuesday at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, the founder and executive chairman of the Chinese e-commerce company said that counterfeit goods are better than the real thing.
“The problem is the fake products today are of better quality and better price than the real names,” he said, according to the Financial Times. “They are exactly the [same] factories, exactly the same raw materials but they do not use the names.”
His comments have likely infuriated an already riled up luxury goods industry.
Last month, the company was kicked out of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) just one month after joining, after the organization found itself in the line of fire from several brand members. Michael Kors, Gucci America and Tiffany & Co. reportedly resigned in protest, citing the company’s track record of allowing the sale of fake products on its Taobao and Tmall marketplaces, and an anonymous letter expressed concern about the organization’s operations and governance.
“We have to protect [intellectual property], we have to do everything to stop the fake products, but OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are making better products at a better price,” Ma continued.
The company backtracked slightly following Ma’s speech, issuing a statement that stressed he was not advocating counterfeits.
“This is simply my observation of the issues facing brands and OEMs. Counterfeiting is not a quality problem; counterfeiting is an intellectual property problem,” he said.
Alibaba Group also released its first-ever annual revenue forecast on Tuesday, projecting a 48 percent increase for the fiscal year ending in March, on top of last year’s 33 percent increase.