LONDON — Danish auction house Kopenhagen Fur, one of the world’s largest fur traders, has announced plans to phase out operations by 2023.
The company’s decision to shut its doors in the next two to three years follows the Danish government’s directive to cull the country’s entire mink populations, following fears of a mutation of the COVID-19 virus passing from the minks to humans.
This month’s developments will not affect business in the short-term, according to Kopenhagen, which is set to receive up to 6 million Danish skins from healthy farms in the next weeks. Those skins will be sold in four auctions planned for 2021, alongside 6 million unsold skins from this year, and fur sourced from other countries.
“As a company, we are in operation and are looking into a completely normal sales season, where we offer the world’s finest mink skins, as we usually do. Our sorters are ready to receive the skins and the auction team is already working deep into the detailed planning,” Jesper Lauge, chief executive officer at Kopenhagen Fur, said in a statement.
After the pre-planned auctions in 2021, the auction house said it will downsize and then “make a controlled shutdown” as the loss of Danish mink production means it will lose its “ownership base.”
Auctions are still expected to be held in 2022, with the possibility of an additional event or two taking place in 2023.
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“Unfortunately, even the strongest community cannot survive the consequences of the decisions that have now been made,” added Lauge, pointing to the 300 jobs that will be affected as a result of the company’s eventual shutdown.
“Kopenhagen Fur’s large international customer group might, of course, have difficulties understanding the past week’s development in Denmark. Many customers have based their entire business model on Danish mink – as the ultimate stamp of quality.”
Kopenhagen Fur supplies brands across the luxury spectrum, and also produces its own designs. Its younger sub-brand, Oh! by Kopenhagen Fur, shut earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the Danish government might well reverse its decision to cull the country’s mink population, citing no legal authority to mandate the killing of mink on farms that are “unaffected by the coronavirus,” and adding that the mass culling (regardless of reported infection) should have been framed as a “recommendation” — rather than a “directive.”
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also apologized for the directive.
Animal rights activists said Kopenhagen’s decision was another indication of the fur trade’s looming expiry date.
“The announcement by Kopenhagen Fur that it will cease trading shows that fur production has now passed a tipping point, and it could very well signal the beginning of the end of the fur trade. Fur farms are not only the cause of immense and unnecessary animal suffering, but they are also ticking time bombs for deadly diseases,” said Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society.
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