The fashion brand, known for its affordable basics and performance clothing, counted around 50 stores in the country as of Feb. 28, according to its website. The company cited operational challenges and the worsening of the conflict situation as among the reasons forcing it to close its flagships and halt operations.
“Fast Retailing is strongly against any acts of hostility. We condemn all forms of aggression that violate human rights and threaten the peaceful existence of individuals,” the company said in a statement.
“Our thoughts are with the people who are suffering today, and we will do whatever we can to support them during these very tragic times. We wish for the return of peace and stability as quickly as possible,” the statement continued.
The move comes a few days after Fast Retailing’s chief executive officer Tadashi Yanai told Japan’s Nikkei newspaper that clothing was a necessity and that “the people of Russia have the same right to live as we do,” standing by the retailer’s earlier decision to continue operating in the country.
Last week, Fast Retailing announced a donation of $10 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, and 200,000 Uniqlo items, half of which were collected at the brand’s Japanese stores as part of its clothing recycling program.
Also, European employees of the retail company have been helping deliver clothing to Ukrainians fleeing their country in the wake of Russia’s invasion.
Asia’s largest retailer is the latest apparel company to announce such a move, following in the footsteps of Zara parent Inditex, which said it was temporarily pausing operations in the Russian Federation, shutting 502 stores, of which 86 are Zara, and suspending online operations.
H&M, Nike and Puma also all altered operations in Russia in recent days in response to the invasion of Ukraine. H&M Group said it had shuttered its around 170 stores in the country, which is its sixth-largest market.
Luxury brands, too, have taken similar stances, with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Kering, Chanel, Hermès and Prada, among the companies to temporarily halt operations in the country.