Stockholm department store apologises for ‘sale’ after terror attack

Stockholm department store apologises for 'sale' after terror attack
The Åhlens store behind flowers laid for victims of the attack. Photo: Noella Johansson/TT
The CEO of Stockholm department store Åhlens, which was hit by a truck in Friday’s Drottninggatan terror attack, has apologised and retracted a decision to open Sunday and sell smoke-damaged goods.

Four people were killed in the attack on Friday, in which a truck drove into the department store, which subsequently caught fire. A 39-year-old Uzbek man is currently arrested under suspicion of carrying out the attack.

Åhlens has since been closed, but had said it planned to reopen Sunday before later retracting this decision.

In a circular email to its customers, Åhlens said that it would “now begin a sale of smoke-damaged products,” reports news agency TT.

The list provoked a strong reaction, with many posting angry comments on the store’s Facebook page, where it was criticised as being “distasteful” and “shameful”.

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The company’s CEO has now publically apologised for the move and retracted on the decisions to open the store Sunday and sell damaged goods.

“We would like to ask our customers for forgiveness for a poor decision,” Åhlens CEO Gustaf Öhrn told TT.

“The background to it is that we were blinded by our eagerness to open quickly. We want to stand up for an open society and all of the values that we represent. It was a bad decision and bad decisions must be changed. Our intention was not to make money out of this difficult situation. I am truly unhappy that it is being perceived this way,” Öhrn continued.

Öhrn also said that Åhlens had set up a crisis team to support traumatised staff on Friday and Saturday.

“We will not open the store on Sunday with damaged goods, but will spend one more day working with our employees to repair the store and instead open on Monday without any damaged goods,” Åhlens said in a statement.

Staff working to clear the damage to the store was those who had chosen to come in as well as staff usually employed at other branches, Öhrn told TT.

“Our motivation [for opening Sunday, ed.] is born out of our values of standing up for openness and not letting evil forces control our lives. It has never been about profiting from the extremely tragic events in Stockholm, which is not what we stand for, nor is it something our employees would accept that we put at the forefront of this difficult situation,” said the company’s press statement.

A decision on the smoke-damaged goods would now be made in consultation with suppliers, Öhrn said.