The Bay drops Ahava, but not because of boycott


TORONTO (JTA) — Jewish groups are satisfied that a decision by Canada’s best-known department store chain to drop an Israeli beauty line is unrelated to boycott calls.

A joint statement Jan. 13 by The Bay stores, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Canada Israel Committee said that The Bay was dropping AHAVA beauty products "primarily because of sales results which had been declining for several years."

The announcement came days after a pro-Palestinian coalition, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, launched a boycott campaign against The Bay for selling the popular AHAVA line of Dead Sea beauty products.

In a counter move, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto send out an e-mail blast on Jan. 11 calling on consumers to "visit your local Bay store, request AHAVA products and purchase them, if available, within the next 48 hours." If unavailable, consumers were urged to ask why.

Two days later, the joint statement from The Bay (known as HBC) and the Jewish groups said the AHAVA line was dropped "after a regularly scheduled review" of the products showed declining sales.

The statement noted that HBC’s decision, though it occurred at the same time as the boycott was launched, was made "solely for commercial reasons," and that "at no point did political considerations enter into" the decision.

"HBC neither subscribes to nor endorses politically motivated boycotts of merchandise from countries with which Canada has open and established trading relationships, including Israel," it said.

The announcement added that AHAVA products will soon be reformulated and redesigned as "a totally changed brand," to be available by mid-spring at HBC stores across Canada.

The international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel claimed victory in Britain this week when the leading British retailer John Lewis announced it would no longer sell AHAVA products.

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