After causing an outcry by refusing to cease its activities in Russia, the Uniqlo brand, from the Fast Retailing house, retracts and decides to close these 49 stores in Russia.
The Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo will finally suspend its activities in Russia, its parent company Fast Retailing announced on Thursday March 10, three days after saying that such a decision was not planned immediately, which had earned many reviews.
“As we continued our Uniqlo business in Russia, it became clear to us that we could no longer continue due to a series of difficulties,” Fast Retailing said, citing “operational issues” and “the worsening of the conflict” in Ukraine.
“Russians have the same right to live as we do”
Clumsy remarks by the CEO and founder of Fast Retailing, Tadashi Yanai, in an interview published Monday by the economic daily Nikkei, had caused controversy. “Dressing is a necessity of life. Russians have the same right to live as we do,” said Yanai.
He had tried to appear both pacifist and neutral, also stressing that “there should never be war” and that “every country should oppose it”. “Uniqlo has decided that the basic need of Russians to have panties and T-shirts is more important than the basic need of Ukraine to live. What a shame!” The Ukrainian ambassador to Japan, Sergiy Korsunsky, reacted on Twitter in particular, while the hashtag #boycottUniqlo began to spread on the social network.
Fast Retailing currently has 49 Uniqlo stores in Russia, making it a minor market for the brand which last November had more than 2,350 stores worldwide. Many other major clothing brands have already suspended their activities in Russia, such as the Spanish Inditex (Zara), the Swedish H&M, the German Puma and Adidas or the American giant Nike. Last week, Uniqlo donated $10 million and 200,000 items of clothing, blankets and masks to the United Nations High Commissioner in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.