Chinese lifestyle retailer Miniso Group has decided to stop styling itself as a Japanese brand amid backlash from Chinese customers, as reported by Bloomberg.

The Guangzhou-based company issued an apology on its official Weibo account, saying it felt ‘regret and guilt’ over its ‘wrong’ brand positioning and marketing campaigns.

In a statement, Miniso said: “We apologise for hurting consumers’ feelings by positioning ourselves as a Japanese designer brand in an early stage of development.”

The group added that it would make changes across its stores to rectify this.

Miniso’s apology comes after a post on its Spanish Instagram account drew criticism from Chinese social media users earlier this month.

Reuters reported that a picture of dolls posted by the brand had referred to one of the dolls, wearing a traditional Chinese outfit, as a ‘Japanese geisha doll’, which angered some Chinese shoppers.

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Miniso said that it had started removing Japanese elements from its stores and shopping bags in late 2019.

These have included redesigning its logo and shopping bags to replace Japanese characters with Mandarin ones in its more than 3,000 local stores.

The company reportedly operates a network of more than 5,000 stores in China and abroad.

It has also pledged to make changes in its network of more than 1,900 overseas stores by the end of March next year, as well as monitor the stores more closely.

Some of these changes will cover the signboards and interior decoration.

In addition, Miniso has promised to punish senior executives who were involved with its previous marketing strategy.

The company’s head office will be responsible for all its overseas social media accounts going forward.

In its statement, Miniso said: “We will strictly examine the content and do a good job of Chinese culture and values’ exportation.”