Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing reverses stance on Russia operations
Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing has reversed its previous stance on operations in Russia, citing "a number of difficulties" including operational challenges and the worsening of the conflict situation in Ukraine. All Uniqlo stores in Russia will close from today.
The company added that it has donated £7.5 million ($10 million) and clothing through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), while its employees in Europe have been helping to deliver clothing to affected people fleeing from Ukraine.
Earlier this week, Fast Retailing's Chairman, President and CEO Tadashi Yanai defended his stance amid the growing number of global retailers announcing their exits from Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
According to Japan's Nikkei newspaper, Yanai said Uniqlo would continue operating its 49 stores in Russia, as clothing is a "necessity of life", and the people of Russia "have the same right to live as we do".
In a press statement released today, Fast Retailing said: "While continuing our Uniqlo business in Russia, it has become clear to us that we can no longer proceed due to a number of difficulties. Therefore, we have decided today to temporarily suspend our operations. Fast Retailing is strongly against any acts of hostility. We condemn all forms of aggression that violate human rights and threaten the peaceful existence of individuals.
"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."