© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pieces of Lego bricks are seen in a shop in Paris, France, April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer//File Photo
By Alexander Marrow
MOSCOW (Reuters) -The multi-coloured toys piling up on the Russian shop shelves may look familiar. But the bright red and yellow Lego store logos have gone, replaced by Mir Kubikov, or World of Cubes.
Russian retail group IRG has unveiled plans for 65 new shops across 20 cities, to replace ones it used to run for Danish toy maker Lego, which exited the country in the wake of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
It is not the first firm to toy with new names since a string of well-known Western brands shut down their Russian operations over the conflict.
Former McDonald’s Corp (NYSE:) restaurants reopened as Vkusno & tochka, or ‘Tasty and that’s it’, in June, while the new owners of Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:) coffee shops opted for Stars Coffee.
Lego said in July it had terminated its contract with its franchisee IRG which owned and operated 81 stores on its behalf.
IRG (Inventive Retail Group) said on Thursday its new stores would sell official Lego bricks “purchased through parallel imports and other suppliers” alongside other toys.
“The new chain will appear in place of certified Lego shops,” IRG said in a statement. “Lego will remain on the list of brands.”
Lego said it was no longer affiliated with IRG, had not shipped products to Russia since March 2022 and does not support or facilitate sales of Lego products into Russia.
“We have taken steps to increase visibility and control over any potential resale activity by our existing customers outside of Russia, including adding additional clauses to retailers’ contracts,” Lego said in a statement on Friday.
Western brands have left in their droves since Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, in what Moscow calls its “special military operation”. Many of the businesses have voiced opposition to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and others have pointed to severe supply chain disruption.
World of Cubes shops have already started opening, and the full chain would be up and running by the end of October, IRG said.
Separately, the Kommersant daily on Friday reported that Dmitry Azarov, previously the majority owner of UK cosmetics retailer Lush’s Russian stores, had launched another company, ‘List’, and started applying for trademarks under the ‘Relish’ brand for goods including cosmetics, soaps and lotions.
Lush said it was aware and wished Azarov well with his new venture.
“Lush is not involved,” a spokesperson said.
Azarov did not immediately respond to a request for comment.