Timepiece

The main watch groups like LVMH, Richemont and Kering close their doors in Russia

The biggest luxury watch brands, from big group brands to private companies, are taking a stand when it comes to doing business in Russia. Some are closing their stores completely, while others say they will remain open to sell inventory, but will not export any new products to the country – something many current sanctions, such as the implementation of SWIFT measures, make it difficult anyway.

Among the brands that say they are temporarily closing their doors in Russia are Chanel, Hermès, LVMH and Kering. LVMH owns watch brands such as Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Hublot, TAG Heuer, Christian Dior and Zenith, and is closing 124 stores across the country. Meanwhile, Kering owns Gucci and several major designer brands like Bottega Venetta, and is closing all of its doors.

More recently, the Richemont Group, along with dozens of key watch brands ranging from Cartier to Montblanc, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Van Cleef & Arpels and many more, announced that it would also be closing its doors. Some companies say they hope to be able to continue to pay employees.

The announcement by major watch companies follows similar statements from fashion and lifestyle brands last week, such as Nike, not only closing stores but also halting online sales to Russia in reaction to the invasion of Ukraine.

Similarly, some groups offer humanitarian aid to Ukraine when possible. LVMH, for example, pledged around $5.5 million in donations to the International Committee of the Red Cross to help victims in Ukraine. The Kering Group made a similar announcement of support for Ukraine with a similar pledge.

Russia has long been a major consumer of luxury watches, although spending there is tiny compared to the annual sales of most major groups. It has been reported, however, that some Russian consumers continue to buy almost urgently. For this reason, some brands and groups, including Swatch Group, have announced that they will stop exporting to Russia, but keep stores open to sell some of its brands such as Omega and Longines.

Hermès and Chanel led the pack when it came to announcing the closures and both went public with their plans by announcing it on LinkedIn late last week. In fact, Chanel’s message stated that it had also ceased online sales: “We will no longer ship to Russia, we will close our boutiques and we have already suspended our e-commerce”.

Other luxury groups were not left out. All brands cited difficulties in maintaining operations and staff concerns as primary reasons for closures. All also note that this is a temporary situation, although none have indicated a time frame for returning to business for obvious reasons.