Sodastream loses major UK outlets under boycott pressure
Reports from Jewish Chronicle and Haaretz. Notes and links at foot.
Outside John Lewis, Oxford Street, London 15 March 2014. Photo by Tapash Abu Shaim
By Sandy Rashty,
July 03, 2014
The Israeli-owned EcoStream shop in Brighton has closed in the wake of weekly boycott protests.
EcoStream, which sold SodaStream recyclable bottles made in the West Bank settlement of Mishor Adumim, was boarded up on Monday. This time last year, the management had reported a 40 per cent rise in sales.
Sussex Friends of Israel, whose supporters regularly staged counter-protests, reacted with dismay.
SFI co-founder Simon Cobbs said: “Of course it’s disappointing. People are very upset. The shop was never given a chance of fair trade.”
He accused Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, a member of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group, of not “doing anything to stop the protestors”.
He said: “She wanted the shop shut by proxy, by not making the protestors move.
“EcoStream should have never opened in lefty-liberal Brighton in the first place, but it should have been given a chance.”
A SodaStream UK spokeswoman confirmed that six people have been made redundant. She said: “Following a two-year test period, the company has decided to focus its business efforts on other channels.
“The business in the UK is on a high growth pattern, with over 20 per cent year-on-year growth and rolling out to new retail stores across the country.”
Last week, John Lewis confirmed it would no longer stock SodaStream products due to “declining sales”.
And this week SodaStream executives dismissed rumours that it would relocate to a new factory in the south of Israel.
In 2012 SodaStream received a NIS 25 million grant from the Investment Promotion Centre towards a NIS 130 million plant in the Idan Industrial Zone in the Negev.
But a SodaStream UK spokeswoman said: “There is no basis for these rumours. SodaStream has no further comment to add at this time.”
Within days, major department store chain takes beverage machines, produced mainly in West Bank, off its shelves, and company’s store in Brighton closes down.
July 03, 2014
SodaStream, the Israel-based beverage machine maker being targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement because of its West Bank production plant, has suffered serious setbacks in recent days in Britain, the Jewish Chronicle reported Thursday.
John Lewis, one of the country’s largest department store chains, and whose Oxford Street store in London has been targeted by biweekly BDS protests, announced it was taking SodaStream’s flavored seltzer makers off its shelves. The Jewish Chronicle said the company’s announcement came last week, and was attributed to “declining sales.”
And on Monday, EcoStream, SodaStream’s store in the tourist town Brighton, closed after facing weekly protests for two years.
Local trade unionists join the regular ‘boycott EcoStream’ demonstration in Brighton, organised by Brighton and Hove PSC, 3rd May 2014.
A SodaStream U.K. spokeswoman said of EcoStream, “Following a two-year test period, the company has decided to focus its business efforts on other channels.” She added that nationwide, SodaStream “is on a high growth pattern, with over 20 percent year-on-year growth and rolling out to new retail stores across the country.”
In January SodaStream attracted a great deal of international notice – both favorable and unfavorable, depending on one’s politics – when actress Scarlett Johansson resigned as ambassador for the British-based charity Oxfam after signing to appear in commercials for SodaStream. Oxfam had informed Johansson that she could not continue to represent the charity if she remained with SodaStream because of its facility in the West Bank, and Johansson chose SodaStream, saying her resignation from Oxfam stemmed from a “fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”
SodaStream’s corporate headquarters are in the city of Lod in central Israel, and it has 13 production plants, its primary one in Mishor Adumim in the West Bank. Its workforce in Mishor Adumim includes 500 Palestinians.
Company denies relocation rumors
Company officials denied rumors this week that it was planning to relocate the West Bank facility to southern Israel, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Sarah Colborne, director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which organized the protests against John Lewis and EcoStream, said on the group’s website: “The news that SodaStream is closing its main UK store and that John Lewis is taking SodaStream products off its shelves is a major success for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. …
She added: “And UK retailers should note John Lewis’ decision to ditch SodaStream, and take heed of UK government business guidelines which warn companies of the potential reputational damage of trading with settlement firms.”
Such warnings have been issued in recent weeks by Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands and Portugal, and 12 more EU countries have recently followed suit.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said on its website that it would continue pressuring other British retailers to stop selling SodaStream.
Regarding the EcoStream closure in Brighton, Simon Cobbs of Sussex Friends of Israel, which staged counter-protests in front of the shop, said, “EcoStream should have never opened in lefty-liberal Brighton in the first place, but it should have been given a chance.”
A year ago the shop was reporting a 40 percent increase in sales, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
“Of course it’s disappointing,” said Cobbs. “People are very upset. The shop was never given a chance of fair trade.”
Notes and links
John Lewis has the best corporate reputation in the UK, report from CorpComms, May 2014.
Corporate Watch reported in September 2012 that SodaStream products were sold by major retailers such as Robert Dyas, John Lewis, Argos, Comet, Lakeland, Conran and some Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda stores. It has “a manufacturing plant in the illegal Mishor Adumim settlement industrial zone in the West Bank. Settlement industrial zones are at the forefront of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. The Israeli government supports the growth of business on occupied land through special tax incentives, and lax enforcement of environmental and labour laws.”
The company’s many UK outlets, dominated by Argos and Robert Dyas, can be found on the company’s UK store locator.
SodaStream, founded in 1991, has its HQ in Lod, Israel. Lod was formerly al-Ludd. In 1948 “most of its Arab inhabitants were expelled.The town was resettled by Jewish immigrants, most of them refugees from Arab countries, alongside 1,056 Arabs who remained. Lod is known today by its biblical name.” from Wikipedia