LEGO says it’s pulling out of Russia ‘indefinitely’

The LEGO Group says it’s ceasing operations in Russia altogether, ending its partnership with the company that runs its stores in the country.

Back in March, the LEGO Group paused shipments of its products to Russia following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, but its stores – run by Inventive Retail Group – were seemingly still operating as normal with existing stock. It’s now decided to pull out of Russia altogether, terminating its partnership with IRG and laying off its 90 employees based in Moscow.

“[The] LEGO Group has decided to indefinitely cease commercial operations in Russia given the continued extensive disruption in the operating environment,” a spokesperson for the company told Reuters. Its 81 stores in Russia will now shut up shop, though the LEGO Group says it’s providing 70 staff members with ‘financial packages’ to ‘support them as they look for new opportunities’.

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“When the LEGO Group stopped shipments to Russia in early March, we also ceased all commercial activity and put almost all our employees on extended leave,” a spokesperson told the BBC. In a YouTube video dated March 18, at least one LEGO Store in Russia can be seen open for business, but all of the LEGO Group’s officially-branded shops will now seemingly close for good.

The company has not directly condemned the Kremlin’s actions, but said in March that its thoughts are with ‘all the children and families suffering as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’. At the time, the LEGO Foundation also made an emergency £12.3m donation to UNICEF, Save the Children and the Danish Red Cross to support families and children in Ukraine.

The LEGO Group now joins a growing list of international brands that have ceased operations in Russia, including Starbucks, McDonald’s and Nike.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

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