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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

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Get It Right on GUM


In response to "Low Sales, High Rents Empty GUM's Shops," by Sujata Rao, Nov. 18:


Editor,


As Russia's largest department store with a century-long history, the joint-stock company "GUM Trading House" values its reputation. We would therefore like to point out that the facts reported in this article are both tendentious and, for the most part, simply inaccurate. The author apparently did not consider it necessary to meet with the management of GUM and used sources who are unaware of the real situation in the store.


It is true that GUM is indeed faced with a number of problems, but not those that the author concentrates on.


In particular, the article reports that despite a fall in consumer demand and sales levels GUM maintains the same high rents. Rents for sub-tenants had in fact already been reduced by 30 to 40 percent by the end of September.


The article states that some tenants have even been forced to move out because of problems with rent and low sales, citing French tenants Galleries Lafayette and Claude Lidz as examples. The contract of the former had in fact expired two months before the crisis broke, and our cooperation with Claude Lidz had already proved to be unprofitable for both sides since the goods sold by this company were not meeting the anticipated popularity among customers.


As far as the more than 120 remaining partners are concerned, not one has pulled out of GUM or reduced their area of floor space.


There are no grounds for any suggestion that the GUM management is concealing information about the company's operation. All such information is periodically provided to the public via the largest Russian news agencies such as Interfax, and the press service regularly arranges meetings with the GUM management.


Our annual financial report is always made available to stockholders and journalists alike. Unfortunately the author of the article clearly did not bother to get hold of this document or two glaring errors would not have appeared in the article. First, GUM's net profit in 1997 was not $40 million as reported, but 167 million rubles, which at the average ruble rate last year was the equivalent of $29 million. Likewise, a simple telephone call to our press service would have sufficed to establish that during the so-called economic boom, imported merchandise comprised 90 not 70 percent of the goods sold at this "prime space next to the Kremlin."


G. Sinelnikova,


Press secretary, GUM Trading House


Not So Grisly, Please


In response to "Western Hostages Beheaded in Chechnya", Dec. 8:


Editor,


I must strongly protest the way The Moscow Times reported the tragic news of the four Western hostages' execution in Chechnya. While I would agree that the lead story of the day was, indeed, that tragedy, I think you could and should have used other language in the headline.


Likewise, the highlighted quote of "The heads were lined up on a piece of cloth ..." was, to put it mildly, grisly and served nothing more than to sensationalize the whole incident.


Please, report the news but don't sensationalize it.


Philip Clinton


Principal


Anglo-American School of Moscow