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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Sweden and UK strike deal to get more artillery to Ukraine

Sweden on Thursday announced a deal to sell its Archer mobile cannon system to the United Kingdom, allowing London to donate its older AS90 artillery system to Ukraine.

Sweden and UK strike deal to get more artillery to Ukraine

The Swedish government said in a statement that the UK would purchase 14 Archer units.

Stockholm announced in January it would also be sending the Archer system directly to Ukraine without specifying an amount, and on Thursday it said it would send eight pieces.

The Swedish-developed Archer system is a fully-automated howitzer mounted on an all-terrain vehicle, which allows the gun to be remotely operated by the crew sitting in the armoured cab.

“Artillery such as the Archer, together with armoured vehicles and tanks, increases Ukraine’s defence capability and enables them to retake territory,” Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson said.

Britain said the 14 Archer systems would serve as “an interim replacement for the 32 AS90 artillery systems the UK gifted to the Armed Forces of Ukraine”.

London announced it was sending the AS90 to Ukraine in January. Sweden’s government said it had so far pledged 16.9 billion kronor ($1.6 billion) worth of military support for Ukraine.

In February, Sweden joined a slew of Western nations pledging heavier weapons for Ukraine, by promising “around 10” of its Leopard 2 A5 tanks, as well as the IRIS-T and HAWK anti-air missile systems.