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Swedish clothing retailer H&M has decided to exit the Russian market, making it the latest retailer to exit the country amid its ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

The announcement comes after the company paused all sales in Russia in early March due to the conflict.

It had been operative in Russia since 2009.

H&M said that it will initiate a process of winding down the business in the country.   

In a statement, the company said: “The company regrets that the business cannot continue under the current circumstances and that many colleagues are affected as a consequence.

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“The focus now is to ensure a responsible wind down of operations and support all colleagues concerned in the best possible way over the coming months.”

Reuters reported that the decision will affect H&M’s 170 physical stores in Russia and its online sales channels, according to a company spokesperson.

As part of the withdrawal process, H&M intends to temporarily reopen its physical stores in the country for a brief period to sell their remaining inventory.

The retailer expects the entire process to cost around Skr2bn ($191.3m), around Skr1bn ($96.2m) of which will have a cash flow impact.

H&M will include the full amount as one-time costs in the results for the third quarter of the fiscal year 2022 (FY22).

H&M Group CEO Helena Helmersson said: “We are deeply saddened about the impact this will have on our colleagues and very grateful for all their hard work and dedication.

“Furthermore, we wish to thank our customers for their support throughout the years.”

H&M is the latest of several Western companies to exit the Russian market amid the crisis.

Last month, sportswear brand Nike announced plans to leave the country completely, while French cosmetics and beauty retailer Sephora recently reached an agreement to divest its Russian subsidiary.