Upmarket grocer Waitrose has come under fire via social media again after protesters hijacked a live webchat with celebrity chef Delia Smith on Facebook yesterday to call for an end for the retailers relationship with oil giant Shell.
Shell has caused uproar among environmentalists for its drilling in the Arctic and, as Waitrose last week announced plans to convert all of its petrol stations to Shell, campaigners took to the supermarket’s Facebook page to air their fury and call on it to pull out of the partnership.
Environmental group Greenpeace highlighted the relationship via its website, which has been redesigned as a mock-up of Waitrose’s own homepage and features the tagline: ‘Waitrose: Partnering with Arctic destruction.’
The site calls on readers to email Waitrose Managing Director Mark Price asking him to “end your toxic relationship with Shell now”.
In response to the call, dozens of angry shoppers rushed to Facebook to air their dissatisfaction and asking it to rethink the move.
One user wrote: “Thank-you Greenpeace for highlighting this partnership, or else most of us would have continued to shop at Waitrose without ever knowing about the partnership with the company looking to drill in the Arctic.”
Another commented: “The arctic is under immense pressure already, you cannot ignore what Shell is proposing. #DumpShell or loose the respect of any decent person left in this country.
“I for one will never set foot in your stores again.”
In September, the grocer was criticised on Twitter when a social media activity calling on users to use the hashtag ‘I shop at Waitrose because” backfired as users took the opportunity to mock the retailer’s perceived middle-class shoppers.
In response to the latest furore, Waitrose claimed to have limited contact with the company though said it had received assurances that its practices are within legal boundaries.
A statement from Waitrose said: “We put as much thought and careful consideration into our relationships with other businesses as into everything we do.
“Having said that, in the context of Shell worldwide, the arrangement we have with them is small.
“Unlike our supermarket competitors, who have substantial petrol operations, Waitrose has chosen to get out of the fuel business.
“The scale of our involvement with Shell amounts simply to their operating the 13 existing petrol stations next to our branches and our selling Waitrose products in two Shell forecourts.
“We offer fuel promotions with Shell and vouchers to spend at Waitrose are one of the rewards offered by the Shell Drivers’ Club.
“If you have questions about specific aspects of Shell’s business I suggest you contact them. However, we understand the US Government has decided to allow exploration in the Arctic and that Shell won the contract for this work.
“Environmental issues are of great importance to Waitrose and Shell has assured us that they will meet US legislation and international conventions, operating with respect for the environment and for the people who live in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.”