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Gap Explains Why Russia Shipments Continued After Ban

A Gap rep clarified to Rivet why the San Francisco denim giant’s merchandise continued flowing into Russia well after the company banned deliveries after the country invaded Ukraine, as a Reuters report uncovered.

The news agency discovered via customs records that more than 1,500 shipments with a declared value of $5.2 million were sent to Gap’s franchisee in Moscow between March 11 and July 16, mostly from Gap Europe Ltd, a division of Gap Inc. that is based in London.

The San Francisco-headquartered retailer, which owns the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta brands, announced the ban in a March 10 staff memo that noted its “small franchise presence” in Russia. “We also have a handful of franchise locations in Ukraine which are currently closed, and we are working through our partner to account for the safety of those employees,” it added.

A 2011 press release for the company’s first Banana Republic store in Russia said it had at least 11 franchise stores in the country, with nine in Moscow.

When Reuters presented the company with records, Gap Inc eventually admitted that shipments continued through April, one month after it said they had stopped. It blamed advance orders for causing the supposed mix-up and said shipments to its Russian partner ended with that one.

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Fiba Perakende Grubu, an Istanbul-based retailer, runs all the Gap stores in Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. “Due to Gap Inc’s decision to indefinitely suspend delivery of Gap products to Russia, Fiba is in the process of winding down its Gap franchise business in Russia, upon depletion of any remaining on-hand stock in Russia,” it told Reuters.

It added that the shipments continued through July because it experienced “longer transit times” going through Turkey but Reuters found no evidence of Turkey as a transit spot. Of the more than 1,200 shipments sent to Russia, the shipper was listed as Gap Europe with the Netherlands as the point of departure.

Gap’s Russian webshop continues to operate although the last Instagram post from Gap Russia, one that announces a men’s wear sale, is from Feb. 23.

“A visit to the franchisee website shows that they are still selling spring merchandise,” a Gap spokesperson told Rivet. The franchisee doesn’t have products for any subsequent seasons because Gap suspended sales. Gap didn’t ship or sell any merchandise to the Russian franchise partner since its final order was processed. Because orders are made many months in advance, the franchise partner collected its final order from the company’s distribution center in April.

Gap Inc. also revealed in the March 10 memo, and across social media, a collective in-kind donation of more than $1 million worth of women’s and children’s clothes to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for “communities in need.” The company said at the time that it was encouraging employees to contribute company-matched donations to U.S.A. for UNHCR, Care and the International Rescue Committee to help with Ukranian refugee resettlement.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and our brands have made multiple in-kind totaling more than $1.5 million in support of refugees from the conflict,” the spokesperson said.