The metaphorical gulf between Vladimir and Volodymyr couldn’t have been more apparent in the eye of the Russia-Ukraine war, which is now on its eighth devastating day. With more than 350 Ukrainian civilians killed and over 2,000 injured, the world watches in shock as reports of atrocities keep flooding in with fears of the involvement of nuclear weapons escalating. The UN general assembly voted overwhelmingly to deplore Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for the immediate withdrawal of its forces. On Wednesday, 141 of the 193 member states voted for the resolution, 35 abstained and five – Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea – voted against.
In a ‘conscious consumer’ era, where customers are driven by purpose over materialism, retailers and brands have been increasingly taking a stand on social issues and making their voice heard loud and clear, which in turn has benefitted them vastly. Accenture Strategy’s most recent global survey of nearly 30,000 consumers found that 62 percent of customers want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues. In fact, the study showed that 47 percent customers walked away in frustration, with 17 percent not coming back, in the case of them not being happy with the brands words or actions.
While governments around the world condemn Russia and hold it accountable for the ‘unjustified attack’ on Ukraine, businesses are taking a stand too to support Ukrainians.
French luxury group, LVMH, has announced that it would donate €5 million (about $5.5 million) to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help the direct and indirect victims of the war. The Group is also launching a fundraising campaign in support of the ICRC to facilitate the contributions of employees across the Group and its 76 Maisons.
Footwear retailer Kurt Geiger has donated last week’s store profits, a total of £50,000, to support the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. The organisation is working with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross to help repair homes, healthcare centres, school and community centres that have been damaged during the fighting.
Craft-oriented marketplace, Etsy, is writing off all outstanding fees for Ukraine-based sellers. The move is worth about $4 million and is meant to offset “tremendous financial hardship” for creators affected by the conflict.
Apple has said it will pause all product sales in Russia and outlined a number of actions in response to the invasion including limiting Apple Pay and other services and stopping all product exports into its sales channel
Jewellery brand Pandora donated $1 million to UNICEF’s efforts to help children affected by the humanitarian crisis, a day after UNICEF estimated USD 66.4 million is required to meet the needs of up to 7.5 million children in Ukraine.
Multiple online luxury retailers have ceased shipping to Russia including Mytheresa, Matchesfashion and Farfetch, Richemont-owned e-tailer Yoox Net-a-Porter Group. Balenciaga put out a statement of solidarity for Ukraine too stating, “We would open our platforms in the next few days to report and relay the information around the situation in Ukraine.” The priority for most companies now is to ensure that their staff based in the war-torn regions are safe.
Ikea, the world’s biggest furniture brand, is closing its stores in Russia and pausing all sourcing in the country and ally Belarus, joining the wave of Western firms curbing business with Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. The news came as IKEA store owner Ingka Group’s retail manager told Reuters it now expected to raise prices by an average of 12% this fiscal year, up from 9% previously, amid soaring raw material costs and supply chain disruptions. While a raft of international companies have already halted operations in Russia due to the war and consequent sanctions against the country, IKEA is one of the first to also halt business with Belarus. “The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy, and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted,” brand owner Inter IKEA and Ingka Group said in a joint statement.
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