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FOCUS LEADS CUSTOMERS UP THE GARDEN PATH
Posted 18 June 2002
The major DIY chain, Focus, has once again become the target of severe criticism for misleading the public and its own customers. The development comes just a month before the company's flotation on the stock exchange.
In response to a series of welfare-related exposés by Britain's biggest animal rights group, Animal Aid - including the revelation that birds described as 'captive-bred' were in fact wild-caught - the DIY chain gave a public commitment on 1st February to phase out rapidly the sale of all wild birds and mammals. Fish sales would, however, continue. While the reordering of exotic birds appears to have stopped, Animal Aid's latest investigation indicates that it is business as usual when it comes to small mammals.
Sales staff told Animal Aid's undercover 'customers' that hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and other small mammals are still being delivered to the DIY chain's instore 'Petworld' departments. One employee said that Focus - which is supplied by numerous small breeders up and down the country - had entered into a contract to sell small mammals for another two years. (See Comments by Focus Staff.)
Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:
"Four months ago we were delighted to learn that we had persuaded Focus to cease the sale of birds and mammals. Surely a multi-million pound company like Focus cannot claim to be held to ransom by small, cottage-industry type breeders! We are perturbed by evidence indicating that they have reneged on their promise and, in effect, are misleading the public. Our particular concern with the sale of animals by this DIY chain is that the high-throughput, off-the-shelf environment leads to impulse buys - which translates into more animals being neglected and abandoned."
City investors, who will be asked to support Focus's flotation on the stock exchange next month, are bound to be discouraged by this latest embarrassing revelation.
Throughout their campaign, Animal Aid has told Focus to STICK TO PAINT NOT PETS and cease the sale of all animals in its stores. The campaign will continue until the company no longer sells any animals, fish included. Animal sales have been taking place in more than 70 of the groups' 400-plus stores.
Notes to Editors
- More information from Elaine Toland or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
- Pictures of Animal Aid protests at Focus stores available on request.
- We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.