- UK luxury department store Harrods said it was “mistakenly” selling expensive Russian vodka.
- The store has responded to criticism from a British MP who said the retailer kept bottles of Beluga Vodka “under the counter”.
- The British government stepped up sanctions against Russia this week, raising tariffs on high-end imports like vodka.
UK luxury department store Harrods said it ‘mistakenly’ sold an expensive brand of Russian vodka, having previously removed bottles from its shelves in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The Independent reported.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday on how Britain’s businesses were responding to the dispute, Labor MP Chris Bryant told lawmakers that Harrods was selling bottles of Russian Beluga vodka, “literally under the counter”.
Bryant did not specify the quality of the Beluga vodka that was allegedly sold at the store, only mentioning it as costing £150, or about $198. High-end versions of Beluga vodka can sell for over £100, or around $132, according to several online retailers. Sales of Beluga vodka outside of Russia increased by 104.5% in 2021, surpassing sales in Russia, according to the distiller’s website.
Responding to the claims, a Harrods spokesperson told The Independent that the vodka bottles were removed from shelves “over a week ago” but that a “mistake” was made after a customer inquired about the drink, and it was removed from storage.
“While Beluga Vodka has been removed from sale, the remaining stock has been stored before being moved offsite,” the spokesperson said, according to the outlet. “After a request from a customer, it was mistakenly put out of stock and released to the customer. This was a mistake and should not have happened.”
“All remaining stock has now been moved to an offsite location and is not available for sale,” the spokesperson added, according to the newspaper.
Harrods did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.
British stores have removed Russian products from their shelves
Bottles of vodka and other products such as Russian sunflower seeds disappeared from UK stores following the Russian attack on Ukraine on February 24. Sanctions imposed by Western countries aimed at crippling the Russian economy are also likely to affect sales of Russian vodka in these countries. .
The British government further tightened sanctions on Moscow this week, introducing a ban on luxury goods exports to Russia and imposing new import tariffs on high-end goods. A list of goods worth around £900million would be hit with an additional 35% duty – including vodka – the UK government announced in a press release on Tuesday.
Luxury vehicles, high-end fashion and art could also be affected by the export ban, according to the statement.
Bryant told lawmakers on Thursday that some companies were “still not pulling their weight” when it came to sanctions against Russia. He said another high-end department store, Selfridges, still had Beluga vodka on its shelves.
In a statement sent to Insider, a Selfridges spokesperson said: “Selfridges stands against humanitarian injustice. We adhere to current government guidelines and comply with all sanctions.”
Located in London’s affluent Knightsbridge district, Harrods is one of the UK’s most famous luxury department stores, carrying more than 5,000 brands, according to its website.