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Decathlon joins retail boycott in Russia with store closures


French superstore chain Decathlon has said it is suspending its store operations in Russia, days after Ukraine called for a boycott of the French company.

Decathlon, owner of the Caperlan fishing brand, presented its decision as one forced by supply chain issues rather than a moral stand against the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Decathlon said in a statement: “In strict compliance with international sanctions, Decathlon notes that the supply conditions are no longer met to continue its activity in Russia. Decathlon has to suspend the operation of its stores.”

Ukranian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had earlier called for a global boycott of Decathlon’s holding company, the Mulleiz family, which also owns retail giant Auchan and DIY supplier Leroy Merlin.

While many companies had suspended their operations since the Russian invasion on February 24, the Mullein companies had continued to trade.

And Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyy, in addressing the French Parliament in Paris, called out French firms still doing business in Russia, accusing them of “sponsoring the Russian war machine” through the taxes they pay to the Russian state.

Decathlon, which has 60 stores and 25,000 employees in Ukraine, also said in its statement that its “efforts immediately focused on the safety and support of our Ukrainian team-mates, who also benefited from the solidarity of their colleagues in neighbouring countries to help them find accommodation, or even to welcome them into their homes or to help them with their administrative procedures.

“Decathlon’s solidarity unit based in Poland centralises our donations (equipment and essential products worth €2.6 million) to local NGOs. We have also set up a solidarity fund with €1 million to date to support the affected populations.

“In accordance with our commitments, we will continue to support our 2,500 Russian team-mates, some of whom have been involved in the company since 2006.”

Putin has threatened to nationalise and expropriate foreign groups that join the boycott.

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