French sportswear retailer Decathlon has backtracked and suspended its activities in Russia following criticism of its decision to stay.
It said supply chain disruption meant it could no longer operate in the country but it would continue to support its 2,500 Russian staff.
Posts on social media had called for a boycott of the French company, which has 60 stores in Russia.
Ukraine’s foreign minister had also criticised the firm.
“In the dramatic context of Ukraine, we are following the evolution of events and particularly the situation of those directly affected,” Decathlon said in a statement.
“In strict compliance with international sanctions, Decathlon notes that the supply conditions are no longer met to continue its activity in Russia. Decathlon has to suspend the operation of its stores.”
McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Ikea are among the companies which have halted business in Russia as pressure mounts on firms to pull out following the invasion of Ukraine.
Decathlon is owned by French retail giant Association Familiale Mulliez, which has been criticised for continuing its other businesses in Russia.
They include supermarket chain Auchan, which has 41,000 employees and 311 stores in Russia, according to its website.
Some people had expressed outrage at the company’s decision to keep trading in Russia on social media, alongside the hashtag #BoycottDecathlon.
“For two decades myself and my family have been a regular customer of @decathlonuk and I’ve freely recommended their products to others. No more,” one wrote.
Others shared pictures of protesters, holding photos of victims of the war in Ukraine, outside Decathlon, Auchan and Leroy Merlin stores in Poland.
On Sunday, Auchan defended its position on Russia.
“Our job is to do everything we can to ensure that the inhabitants of our countries of operation have access to good quality food at an affordable price and thus meet the essential food needs of the civilian population,” it said in a statement.
“Abandoning our employees, their families and our customers is not the choice we have made,” the company added.
It said it had stopped its investments in Auchan Russia and it was not currently making any profit in the country.
It came after Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet: “By refusing to end business activities in Russia, Auchan Holding makes a conscious choice to further sponsor Russian atrocities in Ukraine and make blood profits.”
He called on customers to boycott the company, along with Decathlon and home improvement chain Leroy Merlin, which is also owned by Association Familiale Mulliez.
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used an address to France’s Parliament to call on French companies, including Auchan and car manufacturer Renault, to pull out of Russia.
Renault later announced that it was suspending its work at its Moscow factory.