Protestors say Teva Naot shoes 'come from illegal settlement'
Anti-Israel protests have been held recently in Canada outside the stores of Teva Naot, a shoe and sandal manufacturer based in Kibbutz Neot Mordechai, which is controlled by the Disney family's investment firm Shamrock Holdings.
Dozens of protestors stand outside the chain's stores, holding signs calling for a boycott against the company. The signs read, "Let's boycott Israel's apartheid. Let's boycott the soles of Naot and BeautiFeel (another Israeli shoe manufacturer operating in Canada)."
According to the protestors, "Naot's soles come from the industrial zone of Gush Etzion, which is an illegal settlement located in the heart of the West Bank on occupied territory."
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Teva Naot CEO Michael Iluz told Yedioth Ahronoth, "The protests disrupt the stores' activity and nearby stores. Fortunately, pro-Israel Jewish organizations have answered the call to shop at Teva Naot, and our sales turnover in Canada has increased by 10% in the past three months."
Teva Naot has nine stores in Canada with an annual sales turnover of some $20 million. According to Iluz, in 2012 the company will open two more stores in the Vancouver and Toronto areas and enter the country's malls for the first time.
Teva Naot was founded in 1942. In 2006, Shamrock Holdings bought 66% of the chain. The company currently operates 60 stores in Israel, in addition to branches in Canada, Germany and Australia. A Tokyo store is expected to open by the end of the year.
The factory's sales turnover stands at NIS 250 million ($66 million) – 65% for exports.
According to Iluz, "Montreal has an active group of Palestinians protesting Israel's policy outside Teva Naot stores and a retail store selling BeautiFeel comfort shoes from Israel. The group holds demonstrations outside the store on weekends and drives shoppers away.
"In the past month, a pro-Israel group has been holding a counter-protest. When the Palestinian group protests, customers stay away from the store, and when they leave the customers return. The Canadians don't like any type of protest and therefore stay away when it happens. It's unpleasant."
This isn't the first case of political protests against Israeli chains abroad. The AHAVA cosmetics company was recently forced to close its flagship store at London's Covent Garden shopping district after mass pro-Palestinian protests affected sales.