Reebok has temporarily ceased sales in Russia, joining a growing number of brands that have suspended their business in the country following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The sportswear brand is one of the last of its ilk to pause sales in Russia, as both Nike and Adidas halted Russian operations at the beginning of March.
Authentic Brand Group, which completed its acquisition of Reebok just this month, issued a statement on behalf of the brand: “Over the last several weeks, we have been working closely with our partners to suspend all branded stores and e-commerce operations in Russia,” the statement says. “In some cases, partner operations were suspended immediately. In other cases, due to contractual issues, the suspension of partner operations took longer to come into effect.”
ABG’s statement comes after Reebok was featured in a Los Angeles Times column listing a “hall of shame” featuring companies that hadn’t yet left Russia.
Better late than never — Few American brands have continued to conduct business in Russia, but those that have attribute their decision to supporting their employees and not the country itself: “We will not walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them,” Dave Robertson, president and chief operating officer of Koch Industries, explained to the Los Angeles Times.
It’s worth noting, however, that Reebok’s Russian-language website stopped taking orders as of March 9, meaning the “contractual issues” ABG cites may apply to the suspension of retail stores. Reebok hasn’t confirmed it plans to continue paying employe their salaries despite closures.
Following the lead of other sportswear brands, Authentic Brand Group has made donations to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund, two organizations currently working to provide immediate aid to Ukraine. The company says it will also match any employee donations made to UNHCR.
No more retail? — As the crisis in Ukraine escalates, Russian retail continues to disappear: Alongside Reebok, companies like Nike, Adidas, Disney, Puma, and Netflix have all suspended services to censure the country, with credit card companies Visa and Mastercard following suit. Apple has also paused sales in Russia and limited services such as Apple Pay and Apple Maps.
As the closures began, Russian citizens started to panic-buy from luxury stores. Supply issues are looming with imports to the country nearly at a standstill, and Russian currency has deprecated to a record low. Luxury items may retain or even increase their value during economic turmoil, a phenomenon quickly becoming a reality in Russia.