While Ao.com’s shares surged on their debut last week, Russian hypermarket group Lenta’s newly-floated stock went in the opposite direction.

While Ao.com’s shares surged on their debut last week, Russian hypermarket group Lenta’s newly-floated stock went in the opposite direction.

Lenta paid the price for President Putin’s military showdown in the Ukraine and near-instantaneously lost £400m of its value in just two days.

The ongoing crisis in the Crimea is likely to have an ongoing effect on the London markets. There is likely to be little or no appetite for other Russian retailers thought to be keen to list in London, such as children’s products specialist Detsky Mir, especially against a background of lacklustre consumer spending in Russia.

One Russian asset manager put it in lucid terms to Bloomberg: “Lenta has jumped into the last car of the departing train. Russian retailers have no chance to place their shares anywhere near that high multiples during the next few years as consumer demand in Russia weakens.”

The instability in the East is a reminder that emerging markets can be volatile. Through no fault of its own, Lenta, which had sought to play down the idea that it operates in the ‘Wild East’, has suffered by exactly that association.

However, the implications of the dispute may be wider for retailers and the markets.

The confrontation prompted a plunge in the value of the rouble, which must raise the prospect that Western retailers operating in Russia find it more difficult to prompt the mass of consumers to part with their money.

Similarly, the stand-off prompted investors to pile out of shares and into safe havens such as Government bonds and gold. About £25bn was wiped off the value of the FTSE 100 on Monday as fear took hold.

While it seems highly unlikely that the raft of UK retailer IPOs in progress will be derailed by the turmoil, there could be pressure on the top end of valuations.

But the wider lesson is surely that events, dear boy, events can overtake companies, so investors buying into the present wave of retail floats should be convinced that the business story being sold has fundamental merits.