The two major international brands have been the target of a pro-Palestine boycott movement following their support for Israel in its onslaught on Gaza.
Popular American coffee shop chain Starbucks and Swedish clothing brand H&M are set to close permanently in Morocco due to a sudden drop in demand tied to the ongoing pro-Palestine boycott campaign against them, the Moroccan news site Media Maroc Hebdo reported.
The Kuwaiti Alshaya group, which manages the H&M and Starbucks franchises in the Middle East and North Africa region, have been impacted severely by the boycott campaign.
“According to reliable information, two major global brands, including the Swedish ready-to-wear brand, H&M, and the prestigious American coffee chain, Starbucks, will leave Morocco from December 15,” the report stated.
The New Arab reported that several company store employees were unaware of the closure.
“It will be a disaster, we are over 100 employees. Where will we go after? Hopefully, the reports are not true,” a worker in a Starbucks store in Morocco told The New Arab.
Local reports said consumers were supporting domestically-produced alternatives in their boycott campaigns.
Starbucks has 18 locations in Morocco, while H&M has only opened four stores; neither company has made any official statements.
Yabiladi, an English-language online newspaper covering news on Morocco, reported that the closing of the two franchises comes after years of “management reasons and structural economic difficulties”.
“Well-informed sources who asked Yabiladi to be anonymous have indicated that the decision of the two brands is unrelated to the situation in the Middle East region,” the report stated.
“The (sources) mentioned in particular ‘several operational problems for the Moroccan local administration’, also attributing this withdrawal to ‘the disastrous economic situation’, the report added.
The Kuwait-sponsored stores, such as Pinkberry, Mothercare, Next, and Payless, had been said to have previously left the Moroccan market due to poor performance, backing the report by Yabiladi.
Social media users have targeted brands with ties to Tel Aviv, including multinational retailer Carrefour, after voicing support for Israel’s onslaught on the besieged strip, killing over 12,000 people, including over 8,000 children.
Other global fast-food chains like Domino’s and Burger King have also been targeted with boycotts, as both reportedly gave free food to the Israeli forces before and during the war.
Inspired by South Africa, the Black Civil Rights Movement, activities like The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement have historically placed political and economic pressure on Israel.
The pro-Palestine movement employs and flares the method of targeted boycotts as it has a more direct impact than non-targeted boycotts.
“Many of the prohibitively long lists going viral on social media do the exact opposite of this strategic and impactful approach. They include hundreds of companies, many without credible evidence of their connection to Israel’s regime of oppression against Palestinians, making them ineffective,” BDS notes on its website.
“We all have limited human capacity, so we’d better use it in the most effective way to achieve meaningful, sustainable results that can truly contribute to Palestinian liberation,” BDS said.