(WSVN) - Employees at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores have been instructed to throw away all store signs promoting Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.
“Effective immediately, please remove all Ivanka Trump merchandise from features and mix into [general clothing racks],” a letter obtained by the New York Times read. “All Ivanka Trump signs should be discarded.”
A spokesperson for TJX Companies, which owns both T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, said the instruction was purely about eliminating the signage, not the merchandise itself.
“We offer a rapidly changing selection of merchandise for our customers, and brands are featured based on a number of factors,” spokeswoman Doreen Thompson told the paper.
The Times said Thompson would not directly respond to questions about the reasons for the removal of the signs. However, an employee told the paper that it was the first time she’d seen such a request in her several years of working for the retail chain.
Employees received the notice last week, but the letter publicly surfaced after Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus decided to discontinue carrying Ivanka Trump’s clothing and jewelry lines in their stores, citing declining sales of the brand.
“This decision was based on business results – it was not a political decision,” Nordstrom tweeted Wednesday morning. “Based on the brand’s performance, we decided not to buy it for this season.”
President Trump quickly blasted the department store’s decision on Twitter, first from his personal account, then later re-sending from his official White House account.
The move raised ethical questions about Trump’s position as president while commenting on his family’s business empire. While the president is exempt from conflict of interest provisions, the New York Times noted, ethics experts still viewed his post as inappropriate.
“It is a total misuse of presidential power,” said Lawrence Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, to the Times. “Take another company that is considering whether or not to drop her line. They obviously are going to ask themselves if they want to be attacked by the president.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer disputed the insinuation about a conflict of interest, saying his tweet was about what he viewed as “an attack on his daughter,” rather than about business interests.
Nordstrom responded to Spicer’s comments by elaborating on their decision to pull Ivanka Trump’s line from stores. In a statement, the chain said, “Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now. We’ve had a great relationship with the Ivanka Trump team. We’ve had open conversations with them over the past year to share what we’ve seen and Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January.”
Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s still sell the brand’s clothing, shoe, and handbag lines.
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