Harvey Nichols animal fur u-turn: Crusade against use of rabbit, fox and coyote hits Manchester store

By Judith Hawkins

Anti-fur protesters are taking their crusade against Harvey Nichols’ stocking of animal skin products to their Manchester store tomorrow as part of a country-wide campaign.

Harvey Nichols had previously stopped stocking fur but this season the retailer’s range is to include clothing trimmed with raccoon, rabbit, fox and coyote fur.

The news has prompted the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT) to begin a National Day of Action, taking placards and demonstrations to stores in London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Leeds as well as Manchester.

CAFT member Isobel McNally is involved in the Manchester demonstrations. She told MM: “We are reminding them of the public opinion against fur. People have been shocked and upset and said they would boycott the store.”

Tomorrow’s protest follows a previous National Day of Action on September 21 and a demonstration last night which marred the Manchester branch’s 10th birthday celebrations somewhat by unfurling a banner depicting a skinned animal on the red carpet.

One campaigner was dressed in an animal costume and distributed leaflets while the banner and placards proclaimed the store as ‘heartless’.

The animal rights group are particularly angry because the decision goes against Harvey Nichols’ former stand to stop selling real fur.

In 2004 following a series of anti-fur campaigns against the chain, Harvey Nichols’ Company Director Clive Morton announced in a statement: “He board has today reviewed the company’s fur policy and has decided going forward that we will no longer stock real fur items.”

However in the latest statement Group Press and Marketing Director Julia Bowe said: “I can confirm that this season our buyers have bought fur trimmed products.

“We have taken the opportunity to review our fur policy and the Board has decided that from this season onwards we will continue to buy fur trimmed products.

“Harvey Nichols is a multi-brand store that only sources product from reputable brands that give Harvey Nichols the assurance they source the fur they use on our products humanely and ethically.”

Included in the store’s autumn-winter collection are coats with fox, rabbit and coyote fur collars, and cuffs trimmed with raccoon fur. These items are from a range of brands, the majority of them overseas.

Ms McNally, 24, from Didsbury, said she had been pleased with the public’s reaction to CAFT’s demonstrations, and that many were surprised to learn of the continued sale of fur.

“They thought that because the farming of fur is banned in the UK it wouldn’t be sold here, but this fur is farmed abroad,” she explained.

Under the 2000 Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act, fur farms in England and Wales were ordered to shut down by January 1 2003. Prior to this, 100,000 mink skins were produced every year by 11 UK fur farms. While there were no such farms in Northern Ireland and Scotland, they also abolished the practice to prevent it moving across UK borders.

Other animal rights groups have criticised Harvey Nichols’ change in policy, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

A PETA spokesman said: “For almost a decade, Harvey Nichols has been an example of the high-end, ethical retailer – persuaded a decade ago by PETA and others to banish fur from its UK outlets.

“The store’s resumption of fur sales cheapens its image, reducing it to that of a common merchandiser scrambling to sell to foreigners something that the overwhelming majority of the British public wouldn’t be caught dead in.

“If they were in touch with public opinion, they would know that people rightly regard the fur industry as one of the most violent, bloody and barbaric, with animals commonly skinned alive in major fur-importing countries such as China and Korea, mother animals caught in traps in European woods having to chew off their own limbs in a desperate attempt to return to their young and some two million cats and dogs killed for their fur, which will be carefully mislabelled, every single year in Asia.”

Both PETA and CAFT are calling for the public to put pressure on Harvey Nichols by contacting them directly. The Manchester demonstration will take place at the store’s entrance from midday tomorrow, with another planned on Saturday October 26.

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