(Reuters) -Japanese brand Uniqlo has decided to leave Russia after suspending its operation there last year, paving the way for a sale of the business, the Izvestia newspaper cited Russia's deputy trade minister as saying.
Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing suspended the clothing brand's operations in Russia in March, 2022, joining scores of international companies, after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in what it dubbed a "special military operation".
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Yevtukhov said the company has decided to completely leave Russia but has not yet submitted an application to the government, which means the chain has no buyer yet, Izvestia reported on Tuesday.
"I think they can offer potential buyers their business model," Izvestia cited Yevtukhov as saying. "The Japanese retailer will be able to offer ... lease agreements, popular points of sale with the good buyers traffic and equipment."
Fast Retailing said in a statement its operation in Russia remains suspended, adding some stores were closed with "no foreseeable prospects to resume operations."
The company will continue to monitor the situation closely and make decisions accordingly, the statement said.
Tadashi Yanai, the founder of Fast Retailing, told Japanese media earlier that Uniqlo was operating 50 stores in Russia.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Rocky Swift; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christina Fincher)