H&M closes last stores in Russia

Swedish fashion retailer H&M announced on Thursday that it had closed its last remaining stores in Russia and Belarus, wrapping up its progressive withdrawal over the Ukraine conflict.

H&M closes last stores in Russia
People enter H&M's flagship Moscow store for the last time before the world's No.2 fashion retailer closes all its stores in Russia for good. Photo: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

After stopping sales in Russia in March after Russia invaded Ukraine, H&M announced in July that it would withdraw from Russia at a cost of 2.1 billion Swedish kronor (about 193 million euros).

“The H&M group’s operations in Russia and Belarus were wound up during the quarter, with the remaining stock being sold off and the last stores having closed on 30 November,” the group said in a statement.

Russia was the group’s sixth largest market at the end of 2021, and represented more than 2 billion krona in revenue as of 2021’s last quarter.

The closure of H&M stores in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine affected the Swedish retailer’s overall revenue.

During the last financial year (December 2021-November 2022), sales climbed 12 percent to 223.6 billion kronor, a six percent increase at constant exchange rate.

Without the closures, H&M said sales would have increased 15 percent and eight percent, respectively.

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Swedish grocery giants to cut prices on hundreds of items

Swedish supermarket chains Ica and Coop vowed to lower prices on a range of items, following a similar move by Lidl last week.

Swedish grocery giants to cut prices on hundreds of items

Ica on Monday morning said that it would cut prices on more than 300 items by between 5 and 25 percent, starting April 11th and lasting at least two months.

It said bread, poultry, cheese, cured meats, sauces, dry goods, baby food and hygiene products would be affected by the price cuts.

Ica is the largest supermarket chain in Sweden with around 36 percent of the market share. Ica franchisees are allowed to independently set their own prices, so the number of items affected and their actual cost will vary from store to store.

The price cuts come after Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson urged Swedish supermarkets to follow Lidl’s example, after the chain (which owns about 5-6 percent of the market) last week announced it would lower and freeze prices on more than a hundred items from March 27th.

Coop also announced on Monday that it would lower prices on all fresh fruit and vegetables by 12 percent for its members. Coop’s price cuts will start on March 30th and apply throughout April.

Household grocery bills are soaring in Sweden, as The Local has previously reported. Prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages last month rose 21 percent year-on-year, the biggest increase since the 1950s, eclipsing even the high-inflation years of the 70s.