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MTS, the largest mobile operator in Russia, begins selling discounted and used smartphones in the face of inflation

Russia’s largest mobile operator MTS said Tuesday it has begun selling discounted and used smartphones, offering cheaper alternatives to Russian consumers as inflation bites and Western brands halt shipments.

Apple suspended all sales of its products in Russia in early March. It is one of many Western companies that have distanced themselves from Moscow after it sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24 in a so-called special military operation.

Sales of Chinese smartphone brands in Russia doubled in the first two weeks of March, the Kommersant newspaper reported at the time.

Now MTS offers smartphones from Chinese brands Huawei, Honor and Xiaomi, as well as South Korean manufacturer Samsung, up to 50% cheaper than new devices in its Moscow stores and online. MTS said that the brands offered and the places where they are sold will be expanded.

“For our company, this is a good opportunity to offer consumers an additional way to save on the purchase of quality gadgets,” said Pavel Sukhovarov, Head of MTS Retail Development, adding that now consumers can buy used gadgets at competitive prices.

Inflation is hovering above 17 percent, dampening Russians’ purchasing power, although the central bank said a strengthening ruble and a decline in recent surge in consumer demand are helping to slow down.

The discounted devices that MTS sells include models that were returned within two weeks or have defective packaging and come with a 90-day warranty.

Last week, the telecommunications company reported a 76.2% year-on-year drop in first-quarter net income to RUB3.9 billion (roughly Rs. 530 crore), partly due to higher interest rates.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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