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Russians are buying the latest products from H&M and IKEA as stores close

MOSCOW (AP) — Russians are grabbing Western fashion and furniture this week as H&M and IKEA sell the last of their inventory in Russia, continuing their exit from the country after sending troops to Ukraine.

H&M, based in Sweden, and IKEA, based in the Netherlands, had suspended sales in Russia after the start of the military operation and are now looking to offload their stocks of clothing and home furnishings as they end it, claiming that the future is unpredictable. IKEA’s sales are online only, while the H&M store in Moscow’s Aviapark mall saw a steady stream of young shoppers on Tuesday.

Shelves and shelves were well stocked at the clothing retailer. Nearby stores were closed, including Zara, Oysho, Bershka, Pull&Bear and Uniqlo, while New Yorker, Finn Flare, Marks & Spencer and Mango were open.

“I’m going to start looking at Russian brands,” said one H&M customer, who only gave her first name Anya, after walking out of the store. Another customer, who only gave his name Leonid, said he was “very hurt” that H&M was closing: “A good store is going”.

Both companies are laying off staff as they scale back operations in Russia. H&M said on Tuesday that 6,000 workers would be affected and it was working out the details of an offer of continued support in the coming months.

IKEA said in June that many workers would lose their jobs and guaranteed them six months’ pay, plus basic benefits. He said this week that he had 15,000 workers in Russia and Belarus, but he did not immediately confirm how many would be laid off.

“We are deeply saddened by the impact this will have on our colleagues and very grateful for all their hard work and dedication,” H&M Group CEO Helena Helmersson said last month.

Many Western companies have vowed to leave Russia after sending troops to Ukraine, taking months to wind down operations and often selling stakes to Russian companies. McDonald’s has sold its 850 restaurants to a Russian franchise owner, who is preparing to reopen them under the name of Vkusno-i Tochka. British energy giants Shell and BP are taking billions of dollars in fees to exit investments and stakes in Russia.

During this time, some Western companies have remained in Russia or are partially functioning. French home improvement retailer Leroy Merlin has maintained its 112 stores in Russia, for example, while PepsiCo, Nestlé and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson are supplying essentials like medicine and baby formula while halting unsold sales. essential.

H&M said it expects costs related to leaving Russia to reach around 2 billion Swedish crowns ($197 million), which will be included as one-time costs in its third-quarter results this year.

IKEA announced in June that it would start looking for new owners for its four factories in Russia and close its purchasing and logistics offices in Moscow and Minsk, Belarus, a key Russian ally.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has pushed for years to develop and deploy Russian substitute goods and services to offset the loss of Western imports, which has taken on new urgency as companies like H&M and IKEA go out of business.

It can be difficult to tell when stores in Russia are closed. In the famous boutique-lined GUM department store in Red Square, most of the closed display cases still have the lights on and a clerk or guard inside.

Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds