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Russians visit H&M for the last time as stores close for good

Metro logo Metro 11/30/2022 Jen Mills
Customers shop at an H&M store in Russia today on its final day of trading there (Picture: Reuters) © Provided by Metro Customers shop at an H&M store in Russia today on its final day of trading there (Picture: Reuters)

Shoppers in Russia have bought clothes in H&M for the last time today before the brand closes permanently in the country amid the war in Ukraine.

The company announced they would be closing their 170 physical stores in August, leading to large queues in shopping malls as stock was discounted.

The crowds were not so large today, but those who made the effort were rewarded with fully stocked shelves and everything half price.

H&M shut its stores soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, but temporarily reopened in summer in order to sell surplus inventory.

The brand was among many other companies to leave the country in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s war, including McDonalds, Shell and Ikea.

Companies have come under pressure not to do business in Russia, with many foreign outlets suspending operations soon after the troops went in although not necessarily announcing a permanent exit.

People line up to enter an H&M shop in St Petersburg in August, after the company announced they would close in Russia (Picture: AP)

People line up to enter an H&M shop in St Petersburg in August, after the company announced they would close in Russia (Picture: AP)
© Provided by Metro
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Anastasia, 29, said it was sad that H&M and many other brands were leaving, but life must go on.

‘I’m sure that something new will appear, something interesting, we are always open to this,’ she said speaking outside H&M’s flagship Moscow store. ‘There is no need to dwell on the negative.’

Swedish firm H&M is the world’s No.2 fashion retailer, employing around 155,000 people globally and running 4,700 stores.

Russia’s TASS news agency reported last week that around 80% of H&M stores in Russia were already closed.

An H&M representative confirmed that all stores still open in Russia would close today, but declined to comment further.

H&M rented its 170 physical stores in the country and operated them directly.

A sign at the flagship H&M store in Moscow, which has now closed (Picture: Reuters)

A sign at the flagship H&M store in Moscow, which has now closed (Picture: Reuters)
© Provided by Metro

The Russian government has said that H&M has put its assets up for sale, and expects the potential buyer to be a Russian company or an entity from a ‘friendly’ country – one of those that have not imposed sanctions against Russia.

Separately, H&M today revealed plans to cut 1,500 jobs globally as the cost of living crisis bites for customers.

They said the move is part of a ‘global programme to reduce costs and further improve efficiency in the business’.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Keeping the lights and heating on in vast stores is becoming increasingly unaffordable with energy prices so volatile.

‘With shoppers also becoming impressively price-sensitive as cost-of-living headwinds continue to whip up, retailers are finding it more difficult to pass on increases in input costs.

‘Shoppers are showing signs of trading down and hunting out bargains, so the pressure is on H&M to compete with chains seen as offering greater value, from Primark in high streets to Boohoo and Shein online.’

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