Uniqlo vows to keep its stores open in Russia

Fast fashion company Uniqlo will continue to do business in Russia as other major corporations close stores and halt operations in protest of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine, according to a report.

The CEO of Japanese retail holding company Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo, vowed to keep Uniqlo’s 50 retail stores across Russia open, arguing that its citizens should be entitled to clothing and other essentials despite Putin’s actions, global news organization Nikkei Asia reported.

“Clothing is a necessity of life,” CEO Tadashi Yanai told Nikkei last week. Russians have the right to life as us. “

Going against the grain

Yanai’s Uniqlo is an outlier among major corporations with footprints in Russia that have halted business operations in an effort to undermine Russia’s attack on Ukraine, even if it means taking a financial hit. Large companies from from Apple to Disney and Ikea have abruptly exited the Russian market since Putin sent his troops into Ukraine February 23.

Uniqlo competitor and Swedish fast-fashion chain H&M also said it would “temporarily pause all sales in Russia” in part over concern for the safety of its employees.

“H&M Group was deeply disturbed by the events in Ukraine. We stand alongside all those who are affected,” it said in a press release.

Fast Retailing is facing backlash from Uniqlo customers who love the clothes but are less passionate about their geopolitical stance.

There has been a call on social media for Uniqlo to be boycotted because it continues to do business with Russia. This is as many fleeing war-torn Ukraine to save their lives. Uniqlo, which describes itself on its website as the “fourth largest retailer in the world,” operates around 1,500 stores globally.

” And time to boycott Uniqlo. It was really sad to see their decision to remain in Russia,” Titter user Tiia R stated Monday.

And time to boycott Uniqlo.Really sad to read their announcement to stay in Russia. #StopPutinNOW https://t.co/uuenv5E5Gt

— Tiia R (@troses___) March 7, 2022

Others on social media hurled expletives at the retailer and accused Uniqlo of supporting Russian aggression. In turn, they pledged to boycott Uniqlo.

” “From now on I wouldn’t buy Uniqlo stuff until your course changes upon the invasion of Russia,” said a Taiwanese Twitter user.

I’m a Taiwanese, I used to love all my Uniqlo gears. I will no longer buy Uniqlo gear until Russia invades.

— Li Lun Fu (@MdprGjQlBV8p2Bl) March 7, 2022

“Never buy @UNIQLO_JP again. They refused to cease operations in Russia. This is a red flag. Terrible values,” said @alejandro_m_g.

Uniqlo took steps to show support for the Ukrainian people, who are still under constant attack from Russia.

Last week, Fast Retailing said it would donate $10 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is providing financial assistance to displaced Ukrainians. The funds will help cover the costs of shelter, psychosocial support and other services for those who were forced to flee, according to a statement from Fast Retailing.

Neither Uniqlo nor Fast Retailing responded to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment.

Fast Retailing also said it would donate 100,000 Uniqlo garments, including warm blankets, base layers and face masks to refugees.

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