Danish vendors urged to weather the storm

Danish officials have advised the country's consumer electronics vendors to correct ‘misinformation’ in the Middle East.

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By  Michael Thorne Published  March 9, 2006

Danish trade officials have called on the country’s consumer electronics (CE) vendors operating in the Middle East to play a role in diffusing the controversy that has led to a regional boycott of Danish goods. Head of Trade Policy Department at the Danish Foreign Office Svend Roed Nielsen told ECN: “We advise companies to try to use their business contacts in the region to correct some of the misinformation that has been widely circulated.” “They have to be engaged in a dialogue with their retail partners and consumers,” he said. “We are advising them to stay in the market and work to improve the situation.” Nielsen conceded that the boycott, which was instigated in response to the publication in Denmark of controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), had severely impacted certain sectors of the country’s economy, particularly primary industries. “However, it’s a complicated situation at present and many manufacturers, particularly those producing high-end consumer products, have told us that they have suffered very little impact,” he added. One such vendor is home entertainment system manufacturer and retailer, Bang & Olufsen. The company’s head of communications, Thomas Reil, reported that it was a case of “business as usual” for Bang & Olufsen in the Middle East. “Although we have a retail presence in almost every country in the region, no Bang & Olufsen store has had to close and there has been little impact on sales,” he said. Despite this, the situation remained less certain for other Danish CE vendors. Three weeks after publicly imposing a ban on the sale of Danish goods in its stores, hypermarket retailer Carrefour was still stocking products from Danish refrigerator vendor VestFrost at outlets in Dubai and Sharjah, UAE. The products remained on sale despite complaints from customers, a Carrefour salesperson told ECN. After seeking clarification of the situation, a Carrefour representative told ECN that the products had promptly been removed from sale. “The management of Carrefour expresses its firm stand in banning the sale of Danish products in accordance with a ban imposed on the sale of all products [manufactured} in Denmark,” he said.

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