H&M has announced its exit from Russia, but will temporarily reopen its stores to sell off its remaining inventory. Due to the Ukraine crisis, the world’s second-largest clothing retailer claimed it would be “difficult” to continue doing business in Russia.
The Swedish company ceased all sales in Russia in March, shortly after Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine in late February. H&M is said to have around 150 outlets and 6,000 employees in Russia.
It has not specified a date or timeframe for its departure.
“After careful consideration, we see it as impossible given the current situation to continue our business in Russia,” said chief executive Helena Helmersson.
“We are deeply saddened about the impact this will have on our colleagues and very grateful for all their hard work and dedication. Furthermore, we wish to thank our customers for their support throughout the years.”
H&M is one of many brands that have left Russia in recent months. Many have claimed that sanctions imposed by Western allies during the invasion have rendered trade unviable and, in some cases, impossible.
Others have left to take a moral stand on the conflict, or to response to consumer pressure to act. Prior to the sales suspension, Russia was H&M’s sixth-largest market, accounting for around 4% of group sales in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Since establishing operations in Russia in 2009, the fashion conglomerate has been increasing its footprint, including the opening of stores under other brand names in its portfolio, including Weekday and & Other Stories. Previously, Russian customers could order clothing from the labels Monki and Cos online.
H&M estimates that leaving Russia will cost the company approximately two billion Swedish Krona. The retailer’s Ukrainian stores have been shuttered for some time due to worries about the safety of consumers and employees.
(Adapted from Bloomberg.com)