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EXCLUSIVE Nike for full departure from Russia

People walk past a closed Nike sporting goods store at a mall in Saint Petersburg, Russia on May 25, 2022. REUTERS / Anton Vaganov

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PARIS / COPENHAGEN / LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) – Nike (NKE.N) makes a full exit from Russia three months after suspending its operations there, the American sportswear manufacturer told Reuters on Thursday, as the pace of Western companies leaving the country accelerates.

Nike said on March 3 that it would suspend operations at all Nike-owned and operated stores in Russia in response to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, adding that those still open were run by independent partners.

On Thursday, it joined other major Western brands, such as McDonald’s and Renault, to confirm that it will leave the country completely.

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“Nike has made the decision to leave the Russian marketplace. Our priority is to ensure that we fully support our employees while responsibly downsizing our operations in the coming months,” Nike said in an email.

Foreign companies wishing to leave Russia due to the war in Ukraine face the prospect of new laws being passed in the coming weeks allowing Moscow to seize assets and impose penalties. It has encouraged some companies to speed up the departure.

“What was a drip is becoming a stream (of Western companies leaving Russia),” said Paul Musgrave, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts.

Other sportswear manufacturers have also withdrawn.

Rival Adidas (ADSGn.DE) said in March that they are closing their Russian stores and stopping online sales. Puma (PUMG.DE) also suspended its operations in March. Reebok stopped sales in March and is in talks to sell more than 100 stores to the Turkish shoe retailer FLO Magazacilik. read more

Adidas currently has no plans to resume operations in Russia, the German sportswear company told Reuters on Thursday.

“The operation of Adidas ‘stores and Adidas’ online store in Russia will continue to be suspended until further notice, this also applies to the delivery of goods to Russia,” reads an e-mail.

Musgrave said that companies leaving Russia may struggle to return.

“This provides opportunities for domestic firms in some markets, but even more so for brands from China and elsewhere to make inroads,” he said.

For Nike, which receives less than 1% of revenues from Ukraine and Russia combined, the move is largely symbolic rather than significant to the results.

The company has a history of taking a stand on social and political issues. It backed US football quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his decision to kneel during the US national anthem in protest of racism and dropped Brazilian football star Neymar last year for refusing to cooperate in an investigation into allegations of sexual assault.

Russian media reported in May that Nike had not renewed agreements with its largest franchisee in Russia, Inventive Retail Group (IRG), which operates 37 Nike-branded stores in Russia through its subsidiary Up And Run.

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Reporting by Mimosa Spencer, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Richa Naidu. Additional reporting by Praveen Paramasivam; editing by Matt Scuffham, Jason Neely, Bernadette Baum and Jane Merriman

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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