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Richmond luxury fashion store tied to divorce drama

Both sides accused the other of stealing inventory from the Aberdeen Square shop
Aberdeen Square mall
Aberdeen Square Mall

A clothing boutique store in Aberdeen Square was at the heart of a couple’s divorce proceedings last month.

Ursids specialized in luxury clothing and accessories, mainly from Europe, and was run by Jiabei Zhang and Yilei Xiong.

The couple met while attending Simon Fraser University in 2011 and got married in Richmond five years later.

Before they got married, they founded a company to open the boutique clothing store in Aberdeen Square.

During the divorce proceedings at BC Supreme Court, the couple argued over who should get the lion’s share of the store’s inventory and funds in a business account.

Ultimately Justice Simon Coval split the remaining assets down the middle, despite the former couple accusing each other of taking inventory from the store after they split up.

“Ms. Xiong was passionate about the fashion industry and Mr. Zhang liked the idea of managing a retail business with her,” reads the judgment.

The couple had separated in early 2019 and Ursids went out of business in 2019.

A few months later, Zhang’s friend opened A Level Luxe Fashion Corporation and took over Ursids’ location in Aberdeen Square. Zhang had transferred the Ursids’ WeChat account along with the store’s European vendors list to his friend.

The WeChat account had around 5,000 followers and generated approximately $20,000 of monthly gross sales revenue in June 2019.

Xiong and Zhang both currently live in China, along with their child. They each sought to get a favourable portion of the remaining assets by making claims about their own contributions as well as allegations of assets being misappropriated after their separation.

“At trial, each party accused the other of ruining the business and misappropriating its valuable inventory,” wrote the judge.

Zhang had taken around $274,000 from the company bank account to buy luxury European inventory for the shop earlier in the year.

Wife was accused of selling inventory in her sister’s store

He accused Xiong of taking the inventory and selling it in her sister’s store, Young OG, also in Aberdeen Square while he was in China, stopped giving shifts to Ursids employees and closed the store.

Xiong denied Zhang’s allegations, telling the court she only removed “out-of-season remainders” and put them in storage. She also accused Zhang of transferring the shop’s WeChat account to his friend and taking from the inventory, potentially to sell at Ursids Toronto.

Zhang owned 51 per cent of the company and Xiong owned 49 per cent. Zhang also founded Ursids Toronto Inc. with two other people in 2018 to open a second boutique in Toronto. Xiong was not a shareholder of Ursids Toronto.

Judge Coval said there was “no good evidence” about the contents or value of the missing inventory but it seemed to have been more than what was purchased with $274,000.

He also thinks the evidence suggested both parties had taken a “substantial amount” of the missing inventory.

“The evidence is too vague and ambiguous to make findings about what each took or the comparable values,” wrote Coval, who decided the missing inventory issue would not be used as a basis to decide the division of the family property.

The judge deemed the inventory, the sum Xiong removed from the shop bank account after separation and shares in Ursids Toronto as part of family property.

The couple’s divorce will be effective next month and they are each entitled to 50 per cent of the family property.