By Jonathan Davies

High Street fashion chain New Look has announced it is to pull out of Russia due to 'political uncertainty'.

The retailer currently has 20 stores in Russia, and previously highlighted the country as one of its key expansion targets.

Having run its Russian stores through a franchise model, New Look was planning to buy out its franchise partner and enter a joint venture with another partner to accelerate growth.

The announcement came as New Look reported an 89% rise in profits of the first half of the year to £26.1m.

In the UK, sales were up 8% despite the unusually warm weather. Other fashion retailers like H&M, Next and Marks & Spencer have all said their sales figures for the three months to September were affected by the weather.

Kamel Mellahi, Professor of Strategic Management and researcher of emerging markets at Warwick Business School, said: “It is amazing how much has changed in a year. A year ago most key indicators were suggesting that New Look was going to escalate its commitment to the Russian market. Its operations were profitable and therefore it had sufficient financial slack to accelerate its international strategy. Also, Russia, among other emerging markets, was considered one of its key markets. Most observers were expecting it to increase the number of its stores in Russia. More importantly there were indicators that it was planning to deepen its commitment to the Russian market by buying out its franchise partner and move to a more committed mode of operation via a joint venture."

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