TORONTO – January 13, 2011: TORONTO – January 13, 2011: After careful investigation into rumours of a boycott of Israeli-based Ahava beauty products by the Hudson’s Bay Company, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) has discovered there is no boycott of Ahava or any other Israel-based products. This has been confirmed by both Ahava’s Israel office and its head office for North America in New York. It has further been directly confirmed by HBC’s President and CEO, Bonnie Brooks.
“We are very pleased to note that the Bay has come out strongly against the pressure to join an antisemitic boycott by a radical organization in Canada,” said Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of FSWC. “It is very important for community leaders to investigate matters of this nature diligently, rather than empower and give prominence to the Israel boycotters,” he explained.
The following statement on behalf of Bonnie Brooks, expected to be honoured by the Israel Cancer Research Fund later this year, was released today:
“The brand in question, Ahava, has been discontinued globally by the brand owner, not by The Bay. One of our largest shareholders of the Hudson's Bay Trading Company is one of North America's most significant Israel supporters, and our Governor along with our Chief Beauty Merchant responsible for this product range, are both Jewish. We do not discontinue products due to pressure from any source other than our own decision based on either sales performance or product quality,” Ms. Brooks said. “We are very concerned that we have received hundreds of emails and negative customer reaction inside our stores, all due to the spreading of incorrect information, which has upset our many customers, employees, their families and the fashion industry who are supportive of Israel. We would appreciate the parties involved in the protest, being set straight as soon as possible,” she added.
UPDATE FROM BNAI BRITH:
JEWISH CANADA UPDATE ON AHAVA AND THE BAY
Further to the Community Alert B'nai Brith Canada issued earlier this
week, and the contradictory explanations that have been given by
representatives of the Bay on the Ahava issue, B'nai Brith has followed
up with another letter which includes the following offer to the
The Bay, which is among the retail outlets being targeted by a
coordinated anti-Israel campaign, appears to have underestimated the
sensitivity of the situation and the need for the corporation to express
one clearly enunciated position, with one consistent message, to its
customers and to the public. After receiving concerned calls from
individuals who witnessed products being removed while protests were
taking place, we took the precaution of checking with The Bay for an
explanation. A person who identified herself as a spokesperson insisted
that it was a "business decision" made by The Bay. The explanation you
have since circulated, which insists it was a decision by the
manufacturer/distributer, contradicts the explanation you are now
offering the public.
Regardless of the explanation behind The Bay's actions, The Bay has
failed to deal with the concerns of its customers in so far as it has
not issued a clear statement as any effective public relations strategy
would dictate. By offering contradictory explanations, the company has
to take responsibility for the confusion that has ensued. Regardless of
explanations offered, the fact that the removal of the Israeli-made
products coincides with the bigoted anti-Israel campaign has left
boycott propagandists with the public perception of a victory. For
example, Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, the
instigators of the boycott, and the Palestine Solidarity Network are now
publicly thanking The Bay for dropping Ahava products and removing the
products from its shelves. The Bay is already being held up by
anti-Israel agitators as an example of what a boycott campaign can
As a way of helping you to clarify and rectify the situation, we are
prepared to offer you advertising space free of charge in the largest
Anglo-Jewish publication in Canada, the Jewish Tribune, so that you can
promote the Israeli-made products you carry. This will indicate that The
Bay firmly resists attempts to accede to the demands of boycott
IT IS NOW UP TO THE BAY
UPDATE 2: From The Canada Israel Committee and The Bay
The Bay and AHAVA: A Marketing Decision
January 13, 2011 – 4:37 pm Toronto, January 13, 2011
Last week, after a regularly-scheduled review of the products it offers, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) discontinued sales of AHAVA beauty products, primarily because of sales results which had been declining for several years.
Although this decision was made by HBC solely for commercial reasons, it occurred at the same time as an aggressive campaign by several groups advocating a boycott of AHAVA products. At no point did political considerations enter into the exercise of HBC's business judgment. HBC has made it clear that it has not "bowed to political pressure" in the past, has not done so now and will not do so in the future. HBC neither subscribes to nor endorses politically-motivated boycotts of merchandise from countries with whom Canada has open and established trading relationships, including Israel.
AHAVA products will soon be reformulated and redesigned as a totally changed brand. The new AHAVA products will be ready by mid-spring and is planned to be re-launched at HBC stores across Canada. We encourage consumers across Canada to purchase those products as soon as they are available.
Chief Adventurer and CEO, The Bay
National Chair, Canada-Israel Committee