Luxury fashion brands leave Russia in response to Ukraine war

French companies Chanel and LVMH among those to close stores

Shoppers walk past a luxury department store in Red Square, Moscow. Bloomberg
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Luxury brands such as France’s Chanel and Louis Vuitton have announced they are suspending operations in Russia, adding to the country’s economic isolation since it invaded Ukraine.

Companies cited safety concerns for staff and the uncertainty surrounding the war as reasons for cutting off a market where affluent Russians are typically keen consumers of high-end goods.

Fashion label Chanel said it was closing boutiques in Russia and would no longer deliver online sales there because of what it called “increasing concerns” about the fallout from the war.

LVMH, the owner of the Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior brands, told Reuters it would close its 124 boutiques in Russia but continue to pay the salaries of its 3,500 employees in the country.

Another French company, Kering, which owns brands including Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, likewise said it was closing its stores in Russia. Spanish retailer Zara closed 502 shops and stopped online sales there.

In Britain, fashion house Burberry has halted shipments to Russia, but its two stores are still open. Swiss watch company Swatch said it was closing its Russian outlets.

Several companies also said they were making donations to relief organisations including the Red Cross and the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR.

Away from the high-end market, high street companies to have pulled out of Russia include Swedish furniture business Ikea, UK sportswear retailer JD Sports, and American footwear company Nike.

Companies who have yet to make such an announcement, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, are facing pressure to do so from some customers in the West.

Western leaders are trying to isolate Russia politically and economically to pile pressure on President Vladimir Putin to withdraw armed forces from Ukraine.

Wealthy and well-connected Russians have been hit by sanctions in the US and European countries, including Mr Putin himself.

Updated: March 05, 2022, 2:48 PM