The Retas 2019 greeting card retailer awards event will now take place at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, not The Dorchester Hotel as initially planned and previously announced. This decision was taken by The Retas’ organisers Max Publishing (which also owns Progressive Greetings) in protest at the anti human rights laws that came into force yesterday (April 3) in Brunei. The Dorchester is among the nine luxury hotels that are owned by the Sultan of Brunei through the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Brunei Investment Agency.
“We felt compelled to join the international outcry against the barbaric laws now in place in Brunei, which includes the death penalty by stoning or whipping, for those found to be engaging in the same-sex intercourse or committing adultery,” commented Jakki Brown, joint owner of Max Publishing. “These new laws also order the amputation of hands or feet for acts of theft.”
As she added, “the greeting card industry has human emotions at its heart. There is no way that awards that celebrate the industry’s achievements could take place at a venue where the profits of which contribute to a regime that is at odds with basic human rights.”
Taking place on the same date as originally, Wednesday July 10, The Retas 2019 awards event will be hosted in the ballroom of the Grosvenor House Hotel, London on Park Lane, a few hundred metres from The Dorchester.
Awareness of the laws in Brunei and a campaign for a boycott of the hotels owned by the Sultan has been led by celebrities George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres accumulating support from all directions, including those in the greeting card industry.
Among those who took to social media to pledge their support of the boycott and encourage others to do the same is Sean Austin, owner of leading indie card and gift shop, Austin and Co in Malvern.
Hearing of the news to move The Retas from The Dorchester to the Grosvenor House Hotel, Sean told PG Buzz: “This is great news. I know the UK greeting card industry may not be able to change the laws in a country, but by taking action in this way we at least are making a stand against inhumanity.”
All sponsors of The Retas 2019 are supportive of the move of location. As Warren Lomax, joint owner of Max Publishing said: “Having spoken to all our loyal sponsors, not surprisingly, they are all supportive of the decision to move The Retas.
Our decision is no way a reflection of our feelings towards the team at The Dorchester, with whom we have enjoyed a very good relationship with for years, but it is a matter of principle.
We are very fortunate that the lovely ballroom of the Grosvenor House Hotel was available on the same day so as to cause the last disruption to attendees and sponsors.”
The finalists of The Retas 2019 are due to be announced by the end of April.
Top: The Retas 2019 event will now be staged at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane.