Corporate watchdog the Moral Rating Agency (MRA) has today (16 June) accused French fashion house Lacoste of ‘moral washing’ its continued commercial activity in Russia.
The illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops in February last year resulted in a mass-exodus of Western brands out of fear of appearing to support Moscow’s aggressive actions.
Big name brands such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and Adidas rapidly exited the international pariah in a show of support to Ukraine, and naturally as an exercise in self-preservation.
In a statement released earlier this month, Lacoste claimed that it had suspended shipments to Russia and that it had no employees on the ground.
However, Lacoste branded products are still being made in Russia – with the Troyes-based firm dissociating itself from said products on the basis that their production is handled by an “independent partner” to which it has awarded a manufacturing license.
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The MRA disputes the veracity of this claim on the basis that while said ‘independent partner’ Devanlay owns the rights to manufacture and distribute the Lacoste brand in Russia, it is in fact part of the same ownership group – MF Brands Group of Switzerland.
Moreover, Devanlay’s dormant website redirects to a Lacoste extranet site, whilst fashion brand also openly continues to operate stores within Russia, with these outlets even promoted on its main website.
“It is blatant moralwashing to suggest that Lacoste is not to blame for the Lacoste brand being available in Russia. The companies are part of the same group. Lacoste’s parent company and its sister company Devanlay are financial beneficiaries of any licensing payments that flow back from Russia. Plus, Lacoste is promoting the Lacoste stores in Russia directly on its global site,” MRA founder Mark Dixon said.
“Lacoste’s attempt to distance itself from Russian contagion adds cowardice and spin to the immorality of its inherent relationship with Russia. It is just an attempt to escape embarrassment from contagion while the broader group can benefit from the association.”