Fashion tycoon Paul Smith is pulling out of Russia after outrage over his failure to close stores following the war in Ukraine
Paul Smith is pulling out of Russia after the Mail confronted him about his commercial links to the rogue state.
The fashion tycoon says he has ‘ceased all deliveries’ to the country and intends to close his stores there. There was growing resentment over his failure to back down after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
A Mail investigation revealed on Saturday that Paul Smith is one of three British luxury brands still operating in central Moscow.
Our reporter visited his branch office in the GUM shopping center on Red Square, close to the Kremlin. It was open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
We found shelves full of the latest Paul Smith products, including £197 ties and a £1,050 new season ’embossed leather folio’, which only recently went on sale in the UK.
Paul Smith said he was ‘actually unaware’ that his brand continued to operate in Russia last weekend but has now ‘ceased all supplies’ to the country
The Paul Smith store in Moscow, Russia, where last month it was revealed along with underwear brand Agent Provocateur that they still have stores open in Moscow
Sir Paul’s company, which he founded in 1970, initially refused to discuss its presence in Russia. Both its stores and its lucrative online store are run through a franchise arrangement with a politically connected oligarch named Mikhail Kusnirovich.
For his part, the British tycoon feigned ignorance, saying he ‘actually knew nothing about’ the Moscow trade when the Mail visited his £7.5m London home at the weekend.
But Sir Paul did a U-turn yesterday, admitting that he had indeed supplied supplies to Mr Kusnirovich during the war in Ukraine. He promised to immediately terminate the commercial relationship.
‘The company does not trade directly with Russia, but we have had a franchise partner operating stores in Russia for two decades,’ the spokesman said.
‘We now realize that it was a mistake to allow these shops to continue to trade on our behalf against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.
‘We have asked for those stores to close and have now stopped all deliveries to the distributor.’
Hundreds of outraged customers bombarded his company’s social media accounts with criticism, calling him a ‘greedy traitor’ who makes ‘blood money’.
Several MPs joined the chorus of disapproval, describing the revelation that Sir Paul’s Nottingham-based company was trading in Russia as ‘a matter of great concern’.
A close-up look at some of the items you can buy at the Paul Smith store in Moscow
One of the British stores to open in Moscow was Paul Smith (pictured), the Nottingham-based purveyor of striped scarves and fashion menswear that its eponymous multi-millionaire founder and owner likes to describe as ‘classic with a twist’.
There have even been calls for Sir Paul, who was made a CBE in 1996, knighted by Tony Blair in 2000 and made a Companion of the Honorable in 2020, to have his titles withdrawn.
The Moral Assessment Agency, a lobby group campaigning against Western companies trading in Russia, said: ‘Unless Paul Smith’s shirts are taken from Russia, Paul Smith should be stripped of his knighthood. It’s a simple moral equation. There is no honor for shame.’
Yesterday the agency said: ‘We are withdrawing our campaign to revoke Sir Paul’s knighthood. He quickly moved to clean up his rank. It’s sad that it takes threats like that to get people to do a moral thing.’
Bob Seely, a prominent Tory MP and ex-soldier who successfully campaigned against law firms profiting from Putin cronies, also welcomed the move.
He said: ‘Well done to Paul Smith for finally doing the right thing and well done to the Mail for bringing this scandal to the public’s attention with another excellent investigation.’
Mr Seely insisted that the other two companies the Mail found were still operating in Moscow – the Rolls-Royce car company and Mike Ashley’s underwear retailer Agent Provocateur – should now follow suit and pull out.
“This is a really important topic,” he added. ‘We should not be helping an authoritarian neo-fascist state wage war.
‘This must serve as a warning to other Western brands that continue to do business with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.’