Wickes faces boycott after boss says transphobes aren’t welcome in stores
DIY company Wickes is facing backlash after its chief operating officer said customers who hold gender-critical views are “not welcome in our stores”.
Fraser Longden, the company’s chief operating officer (COO), made the comments at PinkNews’ online trans summit.
The company previously faced backlash in 2022 after its float at Brighton Pride had the slogan ‘No LGB without the T’, which gender-critical activists claimed was discriminatory against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to change some of the bigots’ minds, I’m never going to win that argument with them,” Longden said at the summit in regards to the float. “So we were doing [the Pride float] to show support to the community.”
He went on to say that most of the UK population are “slightly ignorant” about trans issues but come from a “kind position”, adding that anti-trans activists make up a small portion of the population and are full of “hot air”.
“The other 10 per cent you know, they’re just hot air and they will go and buy a tin of paint in the nearest place to them.
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“That might have been us before, it might not be us afterwards – and equally, if they do come in and buy a tin of paint and behave that way, they’re not welcome in our stores anyway,” he said.
The COO’s comments quickly provoked heated backlash, resulting in Wickes’ share price falling by five points.
On Twitter, #BoycottWickes began to trend and as of Saturday morning (17 June), thousands of tweets contain the hashtag.
A number of people called for the DIY business to face a similar backlash to beer brand Bud Light, following its collaboration with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, which resulted in the company losing millions of dollars, alongside people destroying crates of the beer and berating the company and Mulvaney on social media.
Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, who has campaigned against trans inclusion in sports, slammed the Wickes over the comments.
“So Wickes thinks anyone in the UK that thinks biological females deserve fair and safe sport is a bigot! That’s an [awful] lot of mums, dads, grandparents, brothers and of course females who’ll be taking their bigoted business elsewhere,” she wrote on Twitter.
Commentator James Esses described Longden’s comments as “offensive, divisive and discriminatory” and added the remarks are an “absolute outrage”.
“I wonder how the majority of Wickes’ customers would feel, knowing its senior management holds them in such disdain?” Esses said.
Following the backlash, Wickes issued an email to customers where they addressed the #BoycottWickes hashtag and increased scrutiny on social media.
“Fraser is a passionate supporter and advocate for inclusion, diversity and the LGBTQ+ community and the comments made have been taken out of context the email states.
“I would like to assure you that, at Wickes, we pride ourselves on being an inclusive employer. We fully respect that everyone has their own opinions and beliefs and we want everyone to feel welcomed in our stores except, of course, those who display abusive behaviour.
“I very much hope we are able to welcome you to one of our stores again soon.”
On the flip side, Wickes also received an outpouring of support for their support of trans inclusion.
Left-wing commentator and journalist Owen Jones said: “To be very clear: @Wickes is absolutely correct. There is no LGB without the T.
“What binds LGBTQ+ people together is we all suffer bigotry because we are defying the expectations attached to the gender on our birth certificate.
“It’s not hard to understand.”
Trans broadcaster and activist India Willoughby also supported the DIY store, writing: “Ridiculous terfs saying: ‘I was about to go to Wickes and spend 5k – not now’. They seem to have forgotten that 12 months ago to the day, they’d ALREADY vowed to boycott Wickes because of this display of solidarity with the trans community.”
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