Italian clothing chain Dolce & Gabbana on Wednesday apologised to the people of Hong Kong for allegedly discriminating against them in favour of wealthy mainland shoppers.
The company's flagship Hong Kong store has been the focus of protests and online rage after reports that a security guard told locals they were not allowed to take photographs but mainlanders and foreigners were.
Locals accused the fashion house of "mainlandism" and started a Facebook page protesting against the store's abuse of their rights.
Dolce & Gabbana has previously rejected the criticism but in a statement stuck on the storefront overnight Tuesday and sent to journalists on Wednesday it said it accepted that it was in the wrong.
"We understand that the events which unfolded in front of the Dolce & Gabbana boutique on Canton Road have offended the citizens of Hong Kong, and for this we are truly sorry and we apologise," it said.
"The Dolce & Gabbana policy is to welcome the Hong Kong people and that of the whole world respecting the rights of each individual and of the local laws."
The rapid expansion of personal wealth in China has fuelled growth in the luxury sector in Hong Kong, a favourite destination for mainland shoppers to splurge on Western designer goods.
But many Hong Kongers grumble that the foreign luxury stores that line the city's shopping streets perpetrate a form of "luxury hegemonism" in favour of mainlanders and Western tourists.
Reactions to the apology on the Facebook protest page were mainly negative.
"We do not accept D&G's apology statement. It lacks sincerity. Everyone should write to the European Union to complain and demand that D&G be held accountable for racism," wrote one user, Netizen Eric Lo.
Another said: "The statement was released so sneakily -- they did not admit their mistakes. It lacks sincerity, please everyone, do not accept their apology."
A mainland shopper said the row was a storm in a tea cup.
"I think Hong Kong people are overreacting, but I guess it's a natural response," the man told Cable TV outside the Dolce & Gabbana store.