EcoStream store closes after anti-settlement protests

The Ecostream store in Western Road has been the scene of protests and counter-protests
The Ecostream store in Western Road has been the scene of protests and counter-protests

Opponents of the Ecostream store in Brighton have claimed victory after reporting the shop has closed.

Opponents of the EcoStream store in Western Road, Brighton, claimed victory after reporting the shop has closed following two years of street protests.

A statement on the website of the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign says the store has ceased trading.

The statement says: "This campaign has taken the message about human rights abuses in occupied Palestine to the people of Brighton, and their response has been fantastic. They have made it clear that they do not want businesses from illegal Israeli settlements trading in their town.

"The closure of SodaStream’s so-called flagship UK store in Brighton is just one step in a campaign to send a clear message to the Israeli government and the international community that, at the grassroots level, people of conscience are taking action to force Israel to comply with international law and to bring about justice for the Palestinian people.

"We give notice to the other stockists of SodaStream products in the city that we will continue to take the message about SodaStream to the people of Brighton on behalf of the Palestinian people. Congratulations to the people of Brighton and Hove, who can tell the difference between ethical and unethical."

In a separate statement, campaigners said: "Following two years of regular street protests by pro-Palestinian campaigners outside the EcoStream store in central Brighton, the shop has announced that it has ceased trading.

"Campaigners have held regular demonstrations outside the store since it opened in the summer of 2012. The protests have raised awareness about the role of the shop’s parent company SodaStream in Israel’s programme of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territory. SodaStream’s main factory is located on an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, where Palestinian villages have been destroyed and the population removed to make room for Israeli colonists and businesses. The SodaStream company enjoys numerous financial incentives from the Israeli government to operate there in order to consolidate the illegal occupation of Palestine.

"The people of Brighton and Hove have been asked to boycott the EcoStream shop to show their disapproval of Israel’s illegal settlements and their violations of human rights, and to put pressure on the Israeli government to comply with international law. The people of Brighton and Hove have responded by refusing to buy into the shop’s alleged ‘green’ image. The shop’s profits declined steadily over the two years of the protests. Today’s announcement of the shop’s closure is the result.

"The regular protests outside the EcoStream store in Western Road have attracted huge support from local residents and from human rights campaigners all over the country and internationally. The campaign has featured regularly in the local, national and international media – including coverage in the Times and the Guardian. The campaign is now a national one, with stockists of SodaStream products being targeted for protests in local areas across the UK."

In a statement, SodaStream made no mention of the political controversy. It said: "SodaStream confirms that the EcoStream store, located on Western Road in Brighton, closed earlier this week.

"The store, which opened in August 2012, was designed to test a new retail concept, targeting environmentally-conscious consumers who could purchase regular household products by weight and without packaging. The pilot store was inspired by SodaStream’s ambition to ‘unbottle’ the world. The city was chosen for its reputation as having one of the most environmentally-aware populations in the UK, evident with Brighton and Hove seeing England's first elected Green Party MP.

"Following the two-year test period, the company has decided to focus its business efforts on other channels, specifically on retail distribution partnerships, which is proven successful in the UK and in the 45 markets where SodaStream operates. The business in the UK is on a high-growth pattern, with over 20% year-on-year growth, and rolling out to new retail stores across the country.

"SodaStream would like to thank all of its EcoStream customers and fantastic supporters and to reassure them that the brand will continue to fight for a plastic bottle-free planet."

See also:

Why I support the boycott of Sodastream, by Tony Greenstein.

Boycotts simply do not work: Green Brighton supports green Ecostream, by Neil Duncanson