Ukraine War: L’Occitane makes a U-turn and closes its Russian stores

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Just days after defending its decision to continue trading, L’Occitane announced the closure of its Russian stores and online.

The decision was made in response to “enormous human suffering and rising military action in Ukraine,” according to the corporation.

Last Monday, L’Occitane announced that it would keep its stores open to safeguard employees from “retaliation.”

Customers have criticised the corporation’s choice and have called for a boycott of the company.

Its products are offered in over 3,085 retail shops around the world, with sales of €1.5 billion (£1.3 billion) last year.

The company said last week that it had debated closing its Russian stores “at length” but had decided against it because it wanted to safeguard its employees from “retaliation.”

The cosmetics company, which has spas and stores in Russian cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, initially stated that it could not afford to close its locations.

On the other hand, L’Occitane said in a statement issued Friday evening that the decision to close its Russian operation had been accepted by the company’s board of directors.

Hundreds of international brands, including L’Oreal and Estee Lauder, have already shut their stores and stopped selling online in Russia in protest of the Ukrainian conflict.

Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale University’s School of Management lists a handful of companies as still operating in Russia.

Since Russia’s invasion, some 600 major corporations, including Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, and Apple, have moved out or halted operations in the country.

Other foreign retailers who remain operating in Russia have stated that they are unable to close stores due to intricate franchise agreements that restrict them from doing so. The hotel chains Marriott and Accor, as well as Burger King, are among the companies whose operations are constrained by these agreements.

Over a week after the sportswear giant announced it was temporarily suspending all of its stores in Russia, several independent Nike stores were discovered to remain open on Tuesday.

Professor Vanessa Burbano of Columbia Business School in the United States believes that for businesses with operations in Russia, consistency between promises and deeds is critical.