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River Island to pull out of Russia

River Island is to close its Russian stores after its joint venture partner, Maratex, decided to cease trading.

A River Island spokeswoman said it would gradually shut its 10 stores over the coming months, but plans to continue its online operation.

She told Drapers: “Earlier this year, Maratex, a 50% owner of the River Island business in Russia, decided to exit fashion retailing. In the current situation it was difficult to find a buyer for their shares and River Island was not able to become the sole owner. Therefore, with great reluctance, both owners have decided to close the retail business in Russia.

“River Island’s online business in Russia through its own website and local ecommerce partner La Moda is unaffected.”

It is understood that Russian fashion retail group Maratex is winding down its operations. Maratex was not available for comment.

Maratex also runs the franchises for Esprit and Italian retailer Ovs in the country. While Esprit declined to comment on its business in Russia, the company said in its first quarter update last month that wholesale turnover in its rest of world franchise markets was down by 21.5%, “mainly due to loss of business in Russia”.

River Island said in September that it is focusing on international expansion this year, after moving into South Africa, Sweden, Malta, Estonia and the Philippines. It also launched country-specific websites for Australia, France and Germany.

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