Competitors just spreading propaganda, smear campaign: Atiq Mir
Many supermarket chains and people in Pakistan and other Muslim countries have started boycotting French products but interestingly some Pakistani-owned companies are being mistaken for French ones.
One of those companies is the popular LU Biscuit brand. Many large retailers such as Imtiaz and Chase stores have mistakenly made the biscuits unavailable not knowing that the company has absolutely nothing to do with France.
Atiq Mir, the chairman of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, cautioned, people should first see if they are boycotting something that has actually been made in France. “They shouldn’t be doing it with products that are made in Pakistan by Pakistani workers,” he says. “In the latter’s case, people would inadvertently be hurting Pakistan’s economy rather than France’s.”
Mir explained that there are many companies which appear to be foreign-owned but actually all of the investment is made by a local partner, all employees are local and and they have a positive effect on the country’s economy. Such companies should not be a target of a boycott, he told SAMAA Money.
The biscuit company is unfortunately being targeted by a smear campaign either by competitors or ill-informed persons on social media, Mir added.
The idea behind a boycott otherwise makes sense as it hurts a country’s economy as every country depends on its exports, he said.
Pakistani businessman Hassan Ali Khan owns 50.5% shares in LU Biscuits and the remaining 49.5% is owned by the American company Mondelez International.
“Continental Biscuits Limited is the manufacturer, distributor and seller of LU Biscuits in Pakistan. We would like to unequivocally state that Continental Biscuits Limited and LU Biscuits produced in Pakistan have no connection with, and no ownership by any French company nor France,” says the website.
“Continental Biscuits vehemently condemns the recent blasphemous act in France, against our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”
In Pakistan, Continental Biscuits is the manufacturer, distributor and seller of LU Biscuits and the LU brand is completely owned by an American company since 2007.
Back then, American company Kraft Foods acquired Danone, a French company’s biscuit business, including its 32 manufacturing plants, trademarks and licensing rights for $7.2 billion globally. Subsequently, the French ownership of the LU brand was completely taken over by Kraft Foods.
In 2012, Kraft Foods then split into two entities – Kraft Foods and Mondelez International. The entire snacking business of Kraft Foods was then moved to Mondelez International.
The company says that it has generated employment for 4,500 people.