Anger as M&S serves Syria but not Israel

By Marcus Dysch, October 29, 2009

Marks & Spencer has been criticised for excluding Israel from its online international delivery scheme, despite the service being on offer to shoppers in Libya, Syria and Lebanon.

The company has received complaints from disappointed Israelis, but this week declined to explain its reasons for not delivering to the Jewish state.

Earlier this month, M&S expanded its online delivery service to cover 80 countries, offering millions of British expatriates and overseas customers the chance to order from abroad.

Among the Middle East countries included are Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The company’s website boasts that the service is available “from Albania to Vietnam”.

An M&S spokesman declined to comment on whether items produced in Israel, such as childrenswear, lingerie and menswear, are being sold to customers in countries which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, besides not being sold back to the Israeli market.

He said: “Marks & Spencer does not deliver to every country in the world. Israel is currently one of the countries we do not deliver to. International delivery is a new and growing part of our business and we will continue to review new locations and markets.”

M&S customer Sharon Faith had hoped to buy two dresses on the website, to be delivered to her home in Netanya.

She said: “I have emailed them four times for an explanation and have been given the answer, with increasing irritation on their part, ‘keep watching our website’. If they are refusing to post to Israel they should at least say so.

“If M&S is operating a boycott policy then the Jewish community should be aware of it. I don’t believe there can be any bona fide reason for not posting items to Israel, which I am sure has more expats, a better postal service, and a higher GDP than some countries they do deliver to, such as Syria.”

The company has had historically strong links with Israel and was last year thought to be looking at locations in Haifa, Ra’anana and Jerusalem to launch six stores.

Last updated: 5:45pm, October 29 2009