Ikea suspends activities in Russia and Belarus due to war with 15,000 employees put on leave

The Swedish furniture giant has donated millions to humanitarian causes in the region

Joanna Whitehead
Monday 07 March 2022 16:57 GMT
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<p>‘The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted’, Ikea said in a statement</p>

‘The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted’, Ikea said in a statement

Ikea has confirmed that it is suspending its activities in Russia and Belarus due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Nearly 15,000 employees, 17 stores and three production sites will be affected, with “support” and emergency relief offered to families in the region.

The Swedish retailer confirmed it would keep its Mega shopping centres open to allow access for essentials, such as food shops and pharmacies, however.

In a statement published on its website, the flatpack furniture giant announced that the IKEA Foundation has donated €20m (£17m) for humanitarian assistance to those who have been forcibly displaced as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

“This is in response to an emergency appeal from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to scale up its assistance and protection to people affected by the conflict in Ukraine,” it read.

“In addition, Inter IKEA Group and Ingka Group are initially granting €10m [£8m] each to provide support in products and other assistance to UNHCR, Save the Children and other organisations working in the local markets.”

Ikea has had a presence in Russia since 2000 and is understood to be one of its largest Western employers.

It made retail sales of €1.6bn (£1.3 bn) in Russia in the last financial year - accounting for around four per cent of total retail sales.

Operations in Belarus would also be paused, though the Eastern European country hosts only a few suppliers and has no shops, according to the company.

“The war has had a huge human impact already,” the statement read.

“It is also resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions. For all of these reasons, Ikea has decided to temporarily pause operations in Russia.

“The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted.”

Ikea joins fashion brands Nike, Asos and Boohoo, and US tech firms Google and Apple in suspending activities in Russia due to the war.

Asos said: “Asos’s priority is the safety of its colleagues and partners in Ukraine and Russia.

“Against the backdrop of the continuing war, Asos has decided that it is neither practical nor right to continue to trade in Russia, and has therefore today suspended our sales there.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and all those affected in the region.”

Apple also confirmed it would halt product sales in Russia, where iPhones are the third best-selling smartphones, having already suspended Apple Pay services.

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