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Luxury brands among those suspending sales in Russia in protest at Ukraine invasion

Brands are joining demonstrators in showing support for Ukraine. Image: Wachiwit/

More luxury brands have in recent days joined fashion and homewares retailers in putting sales in Russia on hold following its invasion of Ukraine. Even those with few links with either market are clarifying their position – and expressing sympathy with Ukraine at a time when war there is intensifying. Meanwhile, Shell is the latest brand to say that it is closing its operations in the country, apologising for having bought Russian oil last week.

The move by brands owned by luxury houses LMVH and Richemont comes soon after Vogue Ukraine called for luxury brands to boycott the Russian market. In an Instagram post, it appealed for brands to choose “humanity over monetary benefits” and said this was the “only reasonable stand one can take in confronting the violent behavior of Russia”.

And it added: “Moreover, Vogue UA appeals to the global fashion industry to not keep silence during these dark times as it has the strongest voice.” It particularly called on brands including Burberry, LVMH, Richemont, Prada Group, Valentino, Hugo Boss, and Dolce & Gabbana to take a stand across all of their brands, accessories, jewellery and watches.

Apple, Nike, Asos, H&M, Burberry and Ikea were among those to take action last week. Since then Richemont and LMVH have said their brands, which include, respectively, RXUK Top500 listed Net-A-Porter and Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Fendi, are not available in Russia for the moment. LMVH says in a statement: “The LVMH Group is closely monitoring the tragic situation in Ukraine and stands alongside all those severely affected by this war. The Group’s first concern is the safety of its 150 employees in Ukraine and is providing them with essential financial and operational assistance.

“LVMH has today also decided to make a first emergency donation of five million euros to support the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help the direct and indirect victims of this conflict.” It will continue to monitor the situation.

And today UK luxury watch retailer Watches of Switzerland – which works with watch brands including Rolex – has said that it is “shocked and deeply concerned by the tragic events in Ukraine,” while clarifying that “as a business operating in the UK and US, the group has negligible exposure to Russian and Ukrainian customers”. It adds: “Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the conflict and we hope for a swift resolution and lasting peace.”

Strong demand for luxury

Sales in the luxury market have rebounded to new heights in recent months, as shoppers returned to buy luxury goods from watches and jewellery to fashion and luggage both online and in-store following the pandemic.

In January, LMVH reported record-breaking results as shoppers returned to buy luxury goods online.

And in February, Watches of Switzerland reported strong sales growth in its third, Christmas, quarter – and set out plans to expand into Europe through single brand watch boutiques.

Beyond luxury

Today, Shell was the latest to say it would stop selling in Russia, in a move that means closing petrol stations as well as aviation fuel and lubricant operations. Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden says it is “acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil to be refined into products like petrol and diesel – despite being made with security of supplies at the forefront of our thinking – was not the right one and we are sorry.” Profits from the Russian oil it already has are to be put into a dedicated fund, while the company will work with aid and humanitarian agencies about where that will be spent.

Retail group the John Lewis Partnership – said on Friday that it is removing products made in Russia from sale in both Waitrose and John Lewis. It has also donated £100,000 to the British Red Cross in support of the Ukraine Crisis Appeal and will match up to a further £150,000 in customer donations.

And Lego Group has also paused shipments to Russia, “given the extensive disruption to the operating environment”. It said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with all the children and families suffering as a result of the war in Ukraine. Our priority is the safety of all our colleagues. We are in contact with our Ukrainian team and are providing ongoing support to ensure their safety. We are also working to support other colleagues around the world impacted by the escalating crisis including our team in Russia.” It is also donating DKK110m to emergency relief efforts with a focus on support for children and families, via UNICEF, Save the Children and the Danish Red Cross.

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