Stores of Starbucks and H&M will close permanently in Morocco before the end of 2023 due to low demand tied to the ongoing boycott campaign against the companies, reported local Media Maroc Hebdo.
“According to reliable information, two major global brands, notably the Swedish ready-to-wear brand, H&M and the prestigious American coffee chain, Starbucks, will leave Morocco from 15 December,” wrote the Moroccan publication on Thursday, 30 November.
The announcement has reportedly created an atmosphere of “anxiety within the economic circles in Casablanca,” as both brands employed hundreds of Moroccans.
Speaking to several employees in the companies’ stores said they are not in the loop of the alleged reports but are aware that the stores are financially struggling due to a lack of demand.
“It will be a disaster, we are over 100 employees. Where will we go after? Hopefully, the reports are not true,” said a worker in a Starbucks store in Morocco to The New Arab.
Starbucks has 18 locations in Morocco, while H&M has only opened four stores in the North African state so far.
Belonging to the Moroccan subsidiary of the Kuwaiti franchise giant Al Shaya, the two brands would have borne the brunt of the strong boycott campaign targeting the Western brands and stores that shared “apologetic” posts about the Israeli war on Gaza.
TNA has contacted the Al-Shaya franchise in Morocco for confirmation but has not responded by the time of publication.
The franchise’s stores in the North African Kingdom have been struggling since the pandemic. In December 2022, the group decreased its capital from 142 million dirhams (15 million USD) to 65 million dirhams (7 million USD). “This decision was made at a general assembly of the board of directors,” added the source cited in several local media reports.
Shaya’s sponsored stores, such as Pinkberry, Mothercare, Next, and Payless, had previously left the Moroccan market due to poor performance.
Over social media, some Moroccan users have celebrated the news as a victory of their pro-Palestine boycott campaign. At the same time, others questioned the future of the thousands of workers who will be laid off in case of the closure.