Long lines of Russian shoppers formed outside H&M stores in Moscow shopping centres this week when the Swedish fashion retailer reopened its doors to sell off stock before pulling out of Russia for good.
Along with a series of other western brands including Ikea, Nike, and the Zara owner, Inditex, H&M halted operations in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February but opened its doors one last time this week to clear out remaining goods.
Exiting Russia, its sixth-biggest market, is costing the company 2bn Swedish kronor (almost £170m) and affecting 6,000 staff.
“Well, it is closing, that’s why we are standing here,” one customer, Irina, told Reuters. “I’m going to buy whatever there is.”
Another shopper, Ekaterina, said: “Sadly, the reason why all this is happening is awful. Everything else is meaningless, like how we are going to manage [without H&M].”
While the Swedish furniture chain Ikea opted to hold an online-only sale from 5 July, H&M decided to temporarily reopen its stores. The world’s second-biggest fashion retailer after Spain’s Inditex, it rents 170 stores in Russia and has operated them directly.
H&M confirmed there had been queues at stores in shopping centres, and said most of its Russian outlets would reopen during August or September. It plans to keep them open “for a limited amount of time until the majority of the remaining inventory has been sold”.