Decathlon really wanted to stay in Russia, despite the Western sanctions and boycotts. Now the sports retailer is having to change its mind: supply problems are so acute that the stores are forced to close (temporarily).
“For the ordinary Russians”
Unlike many big Western brands and retailers, Decathlon decided not to pull out of Russia when war broke out in Ukraine in March. On the contrary, its French owner, the Mulliez family, believes that now is the time to show up for “ordinary Russians” and the group’s 77,000 Russian employees. The French Mulliez family has been operating in Russia for over 20 years, also with its Auchan supermarket chain and Leroy Merlin DIY stores.
Not only do they feel it is their duty as discounters, but the Mulliez family also fears that the Russian government will nationalise the stores if they do not stay. Indeed, President Putin has threatened to nationalise Western assets rather quickly after the onset of the war and the subsequent sanctions.
Still, Decathlon today had to throw in the towel. The sports retailer imports almost all its products from abroad, which is no longer feasible. The supply problems have become so serious that the shelves are now virtually empty. As a result, the chain is now closing its sixty physical stores and its web shop.
Last weekend, some stores held sales with discounts of up to 70%, while others were already closed. In some stores, consumers can still return goods. However, the chain insists that this is a temporary closure. Russian Auchan and Leroy Merlin stores remain open.