Netizens rejoice at boycott efforts as Starbucks M’sia parent BFood reports lower earnings

THE boycott of products and companies perceived to be pro-Israel have been on-going for several months in Malaysia.

Since the Israel-Hamas conflict began in earnest on Oct 7 last year, local consumers keen to show solidarity with Palestinians have targeted a number of businesses, especially those in the FnB (food and beverage) sector.

It has been greatly debated whether their series of boycott have been effective or how they have adversely impacted workers in the B40 segment who sadly are made up of mostly Malay Muslims.

This brought us to a post by Najib Fazail (@najibfaizal) on X (formerly Twitter) who hailed the boycott campaign as successful – “Boikot berjaya 👏”.

The netizen has shared a media release dated Feb 21 by Berjaya Group which purportedly stated that one of its subsidiaries – Berjaya Food Bhd (BFood) – had incurred a dip of 38.2% in revenue to RM182.55 mil for its 2Q FY6/2024 ended Dec 31, 2023 (2Q FY6/2023: RM295.32 mil) “primarily attributed to an ongoing boycott linked to the Middle East conflict”.

The statement tacitly acknowledged this was due to the effects of the boycott. The record low earnings inevitably dragged BFood into the red with a net loss of RM42.58 mil for the quarter under review as opposed to a net profit of RM35.49 mil a year ago.

Many netizens applauded the news and called for more action.

Some netizens shared the belief that the boycott was having a real impact.

However, some questioned if the coffee chains were really deserted considering non-Muslims may still be patronising them.

A few pointed out that Starbucks has been having a lot of promos lately when the coffee chain brand “had previously been arrogant”.

A number of netizens though queried why certain brands were seemingly let off the hook, not least the X platform itself.

One netizen very pointedly highlighted that the brand still posted a healthy revenue – not just as high as previous year’s – arguing that the boycott has been futile.

Others urged Malaysians to support homegrown businesses that would create a win-win scenario.

One netizen claimed that he was surprised with the “buying power of the Malay community”.

Whichever side of the fence you may sit on, one thing is clear – the boycott is eating into profit margins of certain companies. Whether this will translate into substantial losses over the long-term remains to be seen.

The question that remains though is whether it is fair to punish locally-owned franchises for misdemeanours of the foreign parent company or for the actions of outlets in other countries. – Feb 22, 2024

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