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Ikea packs up Russian operations and plans sale of factories

A man walks past the closed Ikea shop at a Moscow shopping mall on April 11.
Kirill Kudryavtsev
AFP via Getty Images
A man walks past the closed Ikea shop at a Moscow shopping mall on April 11.

Swedish furniture giant Ikea is folding up its Russian presence, planning to lay off staff, shut offices and sell factories.

This adds the world's largest furniture brand to the list of Western corporations fully exiting Russia as the war in Ukraine grinds into its fourth month.

Ikea first opened in Moscow in 2000, with officials welcoming "a new period of stability" in the country that portended the growth of a Russian middle class.

In March, as Russia escalated its invasion of Ukraine, Ikea and many otherstemporarily shut stores and paused shipments of supplies. Ikea at the time said this affected some 15,000 employees.

Now, as the war shows no signs of ending, Ikea says it will "further scale down" its business both in Russia and ally Belarus. This includes shuttering offices in Moscow and Minsk, cutting jobs, permanently closing its 17 stores and trying to sell its four factories.

"Unfortunately the circumstances have not improved and the devastating war continues," Ikea said in a statement. "Businesses and supply chains across the world have been heavily impacted and we do not see that it is possible to resume operations any time soon."

Last month, global brands McDonald'sand Starbucksalso said they would formally exit the Russian market, after 32 and 15 years in business respectively. McDonald's sold all 800-some stores to a Russian franchisee, who relaunched the chain on Sunday with a very similar menu but under a new brand "Vkusno i Tochka," translating roughly as "Delicious, that's all."

For Ikea, Russia had been one of the fastest-growing markets, as shoppers clamored for its affordable home furnishings in the explosion of consumer culture that followed the economic calamity of the 1990s.

Ikea first welcomed Russian shoppers to a store in suburban Moscow in 2000 — just as President Vladimir Putin began his first term — and tens of thousands of people formed long lines outside, with traffic backing up for miles.

This week, Dutch holding company Ingka, which runs Russian Ikea stores, said it would sell out the home furnishing inventory it still has in the country. Ingka, also a mall operator, has so far kept open its "Mega"-branded shopping centers in Russia, previously saying this was to give people access to essentials such as food and medicine.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.