Inventive Retail Group (IRG) has opened the first five stores of its new Hiker outdoor and sporting goods retail chain in Russia. IRG is the country’s largest retail group, specializing in developing stores of leading Western companies in Russia, including Apple, Samsung, Lego and Nike.

Hiker’s assortment consists of several Western brands, including The North Face, Vans, Helly Hansen, Salomon and Norveg. The company opened its first stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg and promised to consider expanding the project if the stores meet expectations.

In December 2022, IRG announced plans to open a new service for the delivery of branded goods from abroad under the name Brandly. As Russian newspaper Kommersant explained, citing local market participants, IRG had previously specialized in representing leading international brands in Russia, most of which had left the market, so the company was looking for new ways to continue the business. The mass exodus of Western brands from the Russian market could create a segment for agency services, the publication said. In November, Russian courier service CDEK said it would begin shipping Nike and Zara Kids merchandise to Russia. Russian Post, the state-owned postal company, has also entered this market and started accepting orders from several European marketplaces. On the other hand, market participants warned that the success of the new business model is not guaranteed. It will depend on numerous factors, including the exchange rate of the Russian ruble, which has been on a downward trend in recent months, the purchasing power of the Russian population and interest in Western brands.