Italian shoemaker Geox said it had suspended new direct investments in Russia, such as marketing and communications and the opening of new stores.

This comes as it grapples with the challenges of reducing its exposure to the country.

A spokesperson for Geox, which mainly operates in Russia and Ukraine through third parties, said today that a final decision on its strategy had been taken at the beginning of May.

This follows discussions that began after Moscow invaded its neighbour in late February.

Directly operated stores in Russia, which account for 30% of Geox's business there, were still open, the spokesperson said, adding that commercial agreements with franchising and wholesale retailers remained in place due to contractual obligations.

Geox was one of more than 200 Western companies that had been continuing business as usual in Russia up until now, according to data from the Yale School of Management.

"It's not easy to leave," the spokesperson said, adding that 70% of Geox's business in Russia had been developed through wholesale business and franchising.

Geox had cancelled all new orders from third parties in Russia and was withdrawing its "European management", the spokesperson said.

He was referring to the resignation of two Italian managers who were working remotely as members of the board of Geox's Russian business.

Geox this week reported a 24.3% rise in first-quarter revenues at current exchange rates to €184.4m and said it expected 2022 revenues to top €700m, noting the target could become "challenging" should no solution to the Ukrainian crisis be found soon.