Animal rights groups celebrate as Selfridges stops selling fur

Animal rights campaigners are claiming a victory after Selfridges said that it had banned all fur products from its shops.

The luxury department store company has been one of the main targets for anti-fur protesters, who have staged weekly demonstrations outside shops and bombarded managers with e-mails and phone calls.

Following a week of action earlier this month, Selfridges sent an e-mail to campaign groups announcing the decision to ban all fur products, including items in concession ranges such as fashion designer Joseph.

The company was one of the last remaining department chains to continue stocking fur and the ban is a major triumph for the animal rights movement.

In the e-mail, Selfridges said: "Selfridges has reviewed its policy on fur and will no longer be selling any fur products. This will come into force with immediate effect. The policy revision was made after customer feedback and a decline in demand for fur- related products."

Selfridges closed its fur department in 1990 but continued to sell items such as rabbit fur-trimmed gloves and clothes.

Mark Glover, from the campaign group Respect for Animals, said: "For us, this is absolutely fantastic news and a major victory, because Selfridges is so high profile and is so often associated with high fashion and glamour. There has been a lot of campaigning aimed at Selfridges because it has continued to claim that it only stocks things that are a by-product of the meat industry, which is blatantly not true.

"It also shows that the fur trade is lying when it tries to claim sales are up and fur is making a comeback. Ten or 20 years ago, the British Fur Trade Association had 250 to 300 members and would take out full colour glossy advertisements listing all their retail outlets. Now there are only about 40 members - that says everything."

The anti-fur campaign has claimed several other scalps in the past year, with Morgan and Mango as well as the outdoor specialists Snow and Rock also deciding to become fur-free after being targeted by protesters. However, Joseph, along with the Liberty store on Regent Street in London have continued to use or stock fur products and are the next big targets.

Sean Gifford, director of European campaigns for the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) says that an entire generation has now grown up with anti-fur messages, rather than being imbued with the idea that fur is glamorous. "You now have those people getting financial and shopping power and being very against fur," he said. They are more likely to be impressed that something is fake fur rather than the real thing."

One high street fashion store, TopShop, now displays prominent signs that all its fur is fake, while Peta's latest celebrity patrons, the Coronation Street actress Kate Ford and Martin Freeman of The Office, are clearly aimed at a teenage audience.

While sales of fur coats may have declined, many designers have continued to use rabbit fur trim, saying the animals have already been slaughtered for meat before their fur is used.

But protesters say that rabbits bred for their fur are kept alive longer than those bred for meat, and are then skinned alive. They have most recently turned their ire on footballer Wayne Rooney's girlfriend, Coleen McLoughlin, after she was pictured in the newspapers wearing a pair of rabbit-fur Mukluk boots.

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