LONDON – One of the UK’s largest retailers has refuted a claim by an anti-
Israel campaign group that it no longer stocks products from a major Israeli
cosmetics company for political reasons, condemning the group for creating
“false and misleading” information.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign
(PSC) implied on Friday that the awardwinning British retail giant the John
Lewis Partnership – which owns the John Lewis department stores and Waitrose
supermarket chains – had stopped stocking products from Israeli cosmetics
company Ahava after PSC wrote to the company’s managing
“Ahava’s goods, processed on stolen Palestinian land, are
becoming too hot to handle. Leading British retail business John Lewis is now
refusing to stock this toxic brand,” the PSC – a radical fringe group which
supports Hamas, a blanket boycott of Israel and a one-state solution – claimed
Claiming “yet another victory for the growing Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement,” the fringe group put out a press
release implying that it had impacted on the store’s decision after receiving a
response to a letter the group had written to Andy Street, managing director of
The PSC said in its press release: “John Lewis managing
director, Andy Street, wrote to the PSC in a letter dated 7 January: ‘As a
socially responsible retailer, John Lewis takes very seriously the treatment of
workers and their working conditions.
We expect all our suppliers not
only to obey the law, but also to respect the rights, interests and well-being
of their employees, their communities and the environment.’ He ended by stating:
‘In relation to your specific enquiry about Ahava Dead Sea products, I can
confirm that John Lewis has ceased stocking these particular products.’”
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post
on Friday, a spokesman for John Lewis
emphatically denied PSC’s claim, stating that while the retailer had stopped
stocking Ahava products, it was purely a commercial decision.
that John Lewis was an “apolitical” organization, and that the decision to cease
stocking Ahava was made “well before” PSC sent its letter.
“To be clear,
John Lewis’s decision to no longer stock Ahava beauty products was a commercial
decision based solely on the sales performance of the products.
buyers regularly review the performance of all our ranges, with new products
being added and less successful ones being removed throughout the year,” the
spokesman told the Post.
“I can confirm that the PSC wrote to Andy Street
to ask firstly about whether we had ceased to sell Ahava products, and secondly
our stance on ethical sourcing.
“At John Lewis, ensuring that we reply
straightforwardly to any query is an important element in the way we communicate
with our customers. Andy responded to confirm that we no longer sell Ahava
products, a decision which had been taken and implemented well before he
received the PSC’s letter. This was a purely commercial decision.
addition, in the content of his letter of response, Andy outlined John Lewis's
responsible sourcing policy. This information is entirely unrelated to the
decision to cease stocking Ahava products; however the person who wrote the
PSC’s press release put the two elements together to create a false and
misleading quote,” the spokesman said.
John Lewis said it stocks a vast
range of Israeli goods, and will continue to do so.
“We can confirm that
we continue to stock products sourced from Israel,” the spokesmans
Last year, the PSC failed to persuade the major supermarket chains
in the UK to boycott Israeli goods following a number of protests at branches of
Tesco and Waitrose.
A Tesco spokesman said at the time that the boycott
call was the act of a “vocal minority,” and that it had no impact on trade at
“We have sourced products from Israel for many years and this policy
remains unchanged,” the supermarket giant said in a statement at the
“We will continue working with suppliers there while they produce
fruit, vegetables and other products that our customers want to
Commenting after the protests last January, a spokesperson for
Waitrose also said there had been no impact on trade and that business was
operating as normal.
In 2009, the group urged people to inundate the
supermarket head offices with nuisance calls “for as long as Palestinian rights
are denied by the apartheid regime.”
Also in 2009, the Scottish arm of
the PSC claimed it had been pivotal in persuading a number of local councils to
terminate contracts with Israeli mineral water company Eden Springs.
one council saying that it was “a complete fabrication”, all emphatically denied
the allegation stating that decisions on procurement was based on “practical and
cost effective factors.”
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