EXCLUSIVE Gap says deliveries to Russia stopped in March.  But her clothes kept coming.

EXCLUSIVE Gap says deliveries to Russia stopped in March. But her clothes kept coming.

NEW YORK/LONDON/ISTANBUL, Oct 31 (Reuters) – In March, clothing retailer Gap Inc joined many Western companies in announcing it was suspending deliveries to Russia in protest against his invasion of Ukraine.

“As a values-driven company proud to do the right thing over the past 53 years of business, we have also suspended deliveries to Russia, where we have a small franchise,” the San said. Francisco-based company announced in a March 10 message to its employees.

But Russian customs records reviewed by Reuters show that between March 11 and July 16, the Gap Moscow franchisee received 1,585 garment shipments with a declared value of $5.2 million. More than three-quarters of deliveries say the supplier is Gap Europe Ltd, a London-based unit of Gap Inc.

Russian customs records are taken from several commercial trade data providers and go up to September 30. They provide details of Russian imports from customs forms, including suppliers, importers, product descriptions and declared values.

Gap shipments included everything from “children’s knitted socks” and “children’s pajamas” to “women’s textile blouses” and “men’s textile shorts”.

Clothes, with the exception of luxury items, generally do not fall under recent Western sanctions against Russia so as not to punish ordinary citizens. But shipments after March 10 appear to contradict Gap’s claims to its employees.

A spokesperson for Gap Inc in San Francisco told Reuters in an October 19 email that “we have halted shipments to Russia as announced in March and have not resumed.”

Reuters then provided Gap with Russian customs data showing the 1,585 shipments after March 10 to Gap Retail LLC, a Gap franchisee in Moscow. It is operated by Fiba Perakende Grubu, an Istanbul-based retailer that runs all Gap stores in Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

On October 28, Gap acknowledged to Reuters that it had continued to facilitate clothing deliveries to Russia until April – a month after telling employees it had suspended all deliveries.

“Since orders are placed several months in advance, our franchise partner picked up their final order from our distribution center in April. Gap has not shipped or sold any merchandise to our Russian franchise partner since its final order was processed,” the Gap spokesperson said in response to questions from Reuters.

Gap did not respond to questions about exactly when the orders were placed, when they were filled or why it did not cancel open orders after its March 10 announcement.

Asked why garment shipments to Russia continued into July, a Fiba Perakende official said in a statement: “These shipments have been delayed due to longer transit times through Turkey, as well as additional processing time at Russian customs”.

But according to Russian customs records reviewed by Reuters, the vast majority of clothing shipments do not list Turkey as a transit point. Fiba did not respond to a question about the spread.

‘SOME ITEMS MISSING’

Fiba Perakende’s statement added that “Due to Gap Inc’s decision to indefinitely suspend delivery of Gap products to Russia, Fiba is in the process of ending its Gap franchise business in Russia, after all stock has been exhausted. available remaining in Russia”.

In addition to its e-commerce website, gap.ru, Fiba Perakende said in its statement that it operated 23 stores in three major Russian cities.

Gap Europe disclosed $9.6 million in annual franchise sales for Russia in its most recent fiscal year, ending Jan. 30, 2021, compared to $11.5 million the previous year, according to its annual report and reports. financial state. Gap Europe’s business has struggled and last year Gap Europe closed dozens of company-operated stores in the UK and Ireland. A Gap Europe director did not respond to a request for comment on the Russian shipments.

A woman who answered the phone this week at a Gap store in central Moscow said it remained open. Asked about her clothing selection, she replied, “Yes, we have a choice. Of course, it depends on what you are looking for. Some elements are missing. »

Russian customs records show more than 1,200 shipments of Gap clothing to Russia between March 11 – the day after Gap Inc announced it was halting shipments – and June 21. In any case, the supplier was listed as Gap Europe with the Netherlands as the starting point. country and Russia as a destination – without mentioning Turkey as a transit point. In its latest annual report, Gap Europe announced that it was changing its distribution center for its franchise business from the UK to the Netherlands.

Other shipments to Russia in June and July indicate that the supplier is either “Ankara Customs” or another Istanbul company linked to Fiba Perakende, suggesting that the garments may have transited through the Turkey.

After July 16, customs records show no shipments to Gap Retail in Moscow, indicating that the flow of clothing to Russia has stopped.

Gap’s statement in March that it had suspended deliveries to Russia also said it would donate $1 million worth of clothing to Ukrainian refugees. In his latest statement to Reuters, Gap said: “We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in New York, Steve Stecklow in London and David Gauthier-Villars in Istanbul; Editing by Vanessa O’Connell and Chris Sanders

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Steve Stecklow

Thomson Reuters

London-based Pulitzer Prize-winning global investigative journalist with work that includes Facebook’s failure to tackle hate speech in Myanmar, US college admissions fraud, how Iran’s Supreme Leader secretly controls a multi-billion dollar business empire and the failure of Chinese companies to comply with sanctions in Iran. Previously at The Wall Street Journal and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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