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Russians flock to H&M as fashion retailer opens stores to sell inventory

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MOSCOW — A long queue of Russians snaked through a Moscow shopping center on Tuesday, waiting to get into H&M as the fashion retailer flung open its doors for a final time to sell inventory before making a full exit from the Russian market.

Scores of consumer brands suspended operations in Russia after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, with H&M, IKEA and Nike among the companies to have announced plans for a permanent exit.

“Well, it is closing, that’s why we are standing here,” one customer, Irina, told Reuters. “I’m going to buy whatever there is.”

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“Sadly, the reason why all this is happening is awful,” another customer, Ekaterina said. “Everything else is meaningless, like how we are going to manage (without H&M).”

Furniture giant IKEA has reopened for an online-only sale, but H&M opted to allow customers back in person. Exiting Russia, H&M’s sixth-biggest market, is expected to cost the company almost $200 million and affect 6,000 staff.

H&M did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

A company spokesperson in July said H&M would temporarily reopen physical stores in August to sell the remaining inventory in Russia. H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, rents its 170 physical stores in the country and operates them directly.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)



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