H&M halts all Russian sales over Ukraine war

Swedish clothing giant H&M said on Wednesday that it would halt all sales in its Russian stores over the war in Ukraine.

H&M halts all Russian sales over Ukraine war
File photo of a H&M store in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The company said it was “deeply concerned about the tragic developments in Ukraine” and that it stood “with all the people who are suffering.”

“H&M Group has decided to temporarily pause all sales in Russia”, the clothing retailer said, adding that stores in Ukraine had already been closed “due to the safety of customers and colleagues.”

H&M said it was continuously monitoring and evaluating the situation.

The move represents a change in H&M’s policy – as recently as Wednesday morning, H&M stores in Russia were still open, with the company declining interview requests from newswire TT, saying only that “our stores in Russia are open, we are waiting before making further comment”.

Swedish companies IKEA and Spotify have also faced criticism over continuing to conduct business in Russia, despite strong international reactions and sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This decision could cost these companies dearly, brand expert Eva Ossiansson told newswire TT: “They should think about the kind of values they want to be associated with,” she said.

Sanctions from Europe and the USA are a way of ‘starving’ the Russian economy to mark that Russia’s actions in Ukraine are not tolerated by the international community. They have already had wide-ranging consequences for Russia, and many Swedish companies have stated this week that they are stopping or temporarily pausing business in Russia.

Spotify has now released a statement saying that it has closed its office in Russia and removed Russian state-sponsored content from its service.

Several other Swedish companies have already halted their Russian operations over the war and sanctions imposed on Russia.

On Monday, Swedish truck maker Volvo said it was stopping sales and halting production at its Kaluga plant, and telecoms giant Ericsson also said it would halt deliveries to Russian clients.

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SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

More than 3,700 flights where cancelled and 380,000 passengers where affected by the 15-day strike which hit Scandinavia's SAS airline last month, the company has revealed.

SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

“We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected by the July strike,” Anko van der Werff, the company’s chief executive, said in a press release. “We are happy operations returned to normality again allowing us to start regaining our customers’ trust.”

According to the release, 1.3 million passengers travelled with the airline in July, which was still a 23 percent increase on the same month last year, when Covid-19 restrictions were still reducing tourism levels.

“In comparison with last month, the total number of passengers decreased with 32 percent and capacity was decreased by 23 percent, which was a result from the 15-day pilot strike,” the release read. 

Pilot unions in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, went on strike for 15 days last month over pay, conditions, and the company’s refusal to rehire pilots laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic on the same terms as before. 

The strike, which cost the airline between €9m and €12m a day, was ended on July 19th, after which it took several days to get flights back to normal

Van der Werff said company said it would now continue putting in place its restructuring plan, SAS FORWARD, and push ahead with restructuring in the US, where the company has filed for Chapter 11. 

He said these would both “accelerate the transformation process that will lead to a financially stable airline, that will be able to deliver the service our customers are expecting”.