Top department store goes fur free


One of the country's most exclusive department stores is shelving its tradition of selling animal fur products, it emerged today.

Brown Thomas will initiate a 'no fur' policy from February, with management insisting it was taking animal welfare into account.

The move has been welcomed by animal rights activists, who in recent months have campaigned outside the store's Grafton Street branch during peak shopping hours.

Brown Thomas stores in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway will only sell synthetic fur, or leather, suede, sheepskin, and shearling. "This decision has been taken in consideration of all issues surrounding animal welfare," said a Brown Thomas spokeswoman.

"To date the Brown Thomas Group has operated a strict policy of stocking only items made from skins of animals in the food chain. "Stephen Sealey, the Brown Thomas Group Buying Director for Fashions and Accessories, has already communicated this policy to all suppliers to Brown Thomas and BT2 stores."

Action groups AFAR, ARAN, ALiberation and CAFT Ireland said they collected thousands of signatures for a petition to boycott Brown Thomas until they went fur free.

The chain has joined a growing list of influential designers and stores that have removed themselves from the fur trade including Marks & Spencer, Dunnes Stores, Debenhams, Next, Top Shop, and Karen Millen.

Ed Long, of ALiberation action group, said having no real fur sold in Brown Thomas or BT2 stores will be a significant blow to the fur industry in this country, which he claims kills 170,000 animals in six fur farms in Ireland each year. "Fur is cruel and unnecessary," he said.

"Nobody will die from not wearing fur except the animal who will have been caged for their entire life. "In the past other large stores had committed to a fur free policy only to then betray the public and later sell fur. We trust that Brown Thomas will be faithful to their word."

Campaigners will celebrate National Fur Free Day next Saturday to call on other chains across the country to follow Brown Thomas's lead.