Fast Retailing‘s U-turn comes after a social media backlash following the statement it made on 7 March that said it would keep its stores open in Russia, in stark contrast to its global peers, after firms such as Nike, Inc and Puma AG, suspended operations in the country due to its invasion of Ukraine. 

The latest statement from the Japanese retail giant, announces that while it was originally planning to continue running the Uniqlo business in Russia, it has become clear that it can no longer proceed due to a ‘number of difficulties’ and therefore, it has decided to temporarily suspend its operations from 10 March. 

Fast Retailing said it is strongly against any acts of hostility and condemns all forms of aggression that violate human rights and threaten the peaceful existence of individuals. The statement says: “We believe it is our responsibility to provide such essential items to all, including those affected by conflict, natural disasters and other devastations. Last week we announced a donation of US$10m (EUR9.1m) and clothing through our longstanding global partnership with UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency). In addition, our employees in Europe have been helping deliver clothing to affected people fleeing from Ukraine. 

“Uniqlo has made everyday clothing available to the general public in Russia too, as part of our mission. However, we have recently faced a number of difficulties, including operational challenges and the worsening of the conflict situation. For this reason, we will temporarily suspend our operations. 

“Our thoughts are with the people who are suffering today, and we will do whatever we can to support them during these very tragic times. We wish for the return of peace and stability as quickly as possible.” 

The company has donated 100,000 pieces of Uniqlo clothing and other items, including HeatTech blankets, HeatTech innerwear, and AIRism masks, as well as 100,000 items of winter clothing collected at Uniqlo stores in Japan through the company’s clothing recycling programme.   

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Just Style is keeping you up to date with all the latest developments of the Ukraine-Russia war and its potential impact on the apparel industry via a Special Focus.

Click here to access our TIMELINE – Ukraine-Russia crisis: The impact on the global apparel industry and here to see how fashion firms are mobilising to support Ukraine.