Pret pulls out of 40-store opening in Israel after BDS

  • Post last modified:June 4, 2024
  • Reading time:7 mins read

This article was updated at 1:40pm on 4 June to reflect a statement from Pret a Manger

Coffee and snack giant Pret a Manger has confirmed it has pulled out of plans to open 40 new stores in Israel. It comes after a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) campaign against the brand – all against the backdrop of Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Pret outta Israel

In 2022 UK coffee chain Pret a Manger signed a franchise agreement with Israeli conglomerate Fox Group and restaurant operator Yarzin Sella to open 40 stores in Israel over the next decade.

Activists and branches of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) had begun to call for a boycott of Pret arguing that to invest in Israel as it conducts a genocide in Gaza and operates a system of apartheid over all Palestinians was unjustifiable and reprehensible:

Pret IsraelPret Israel

It’s now been reported that Pret has gone back on this agreement, worth millions of pounds, and will not open Pret stores in Israel.

PSC claimed in a statement that:

The boycott campaign that had begun against Pret has forced it to reconsider and reverse a major business decision.

As Globes reported:

Fox had been planning to open Israel’s first Pret a Manger outlet in Tel Aviv towards the end of 2024. It has been reported recently that there has been major pressure from pro-Palestinian organizations that have threatened to boycott the network, if it does open in Israel. The plan has been to set up about 40 branches in Israel.

It also noted that Fox said in a statement:

On May 30, 2024, Pret A Manger announced its decision to cancel the license agreement, and this, according to it, due to the occurrence of a force majeure event as a result of the Iron Swords War and its effect on the company’s ability to carry out the preliminary actions required to open the activity according to the license agreement.

Israel is the subject of a global, Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to force an end to its regime of settler-colonialism, military occupation and apartheid against Palestinians:

A Pret spokesperson told the Canary:

We have taken the difficult decision to end our current agreement with Fox Group and Yarzin Sella Group.

We had tried to delay this decision for as long as possible, but the significant ongoing travel restrictions have meant that our teams have not been able to conduct the checks and training needed to set up Pret in a new market. Under the terms of Pret’s travel insurance, any colleagues travelling to Israel would not be insured.

We want to express our sincerest thanks to the teams at Fox Group and Yarzin Sella Group, who have been supportive and extremely collaborative partners.

Pret is the latest in a long line of companies withdrawing from, or reversing plans, to invest in Israel leading to financial and political isolation in much the same way as South Africa under the apartheid regime.

BDS and protest do work

For example, Palestine Action has successfully stopped a handful of companies working with arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. In an email to Palestine Action on 23 April, MLL Legal’s partner Dunja Koch confirmed the law firm is no longer working for Elbit Systems and will not do so in the future. This came after a two year direct action campaign which involved repeatedly spray painting the law firm’s London office.

In February, transportation giants Kuehne+Nagel (K+N) declared it had ended all ties with Israel’s largest weapons firm, Elbit Systems, and would not be working with the company again in the future. It is one of only six companies licensed for the secure collection, delivery, and disposal of firearms and weapons in Britain.

Its sole recruiters, iO associates, the property managers of Elbit’s Shenstone factory Fisher German, and the website hosts for Elbit’s Leicester factory also dropped all ties with the Israeli weapons maker.

Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, says:

This decision sends a message to all companies – if you provide support for Israel’s apartheid and genocide against Palestinians, you will face the strength of our movement who will boycott your products and protest at your stores. Israel has got away with crimes against humanity for too long.

The people of the world are holding Israel to account by refusing to let their spending or saving finance war crimes. It’s high time our political leaders followed suit by ending arms sales, and financial and diplomatic support to Israel.

Featured image and additional images via PSC

Source link