This Thursday the Japanese chain of clothing stores Uniqlo announced that it will temporarily suspend its operations in Russia.
The announcement came just one day after the company’s owner defended his earlier decision not to close his stores on Russian soil despite the invasion of Ukraine.
“Clothing is a necessary item for living. And people in Russia have the same right to live as we do,” Tadashi Yanai, founder and president of the Fast Retailing group, of which Uniqlo is a subsidiary, had told a Japanese newspaper.
Uniqlo thus joins other similar chains such as Zara and H&M , which suspended their activities due to the invasion.
But other multinationals from different sectors, as BBC journalist Beth Timmins explains below, continue to operate in Russian territory 15 days after the invasion.
The Yale University business school maintains an updated list of the nearly 300 companies that have announced the suspension of activities in Russia, and those that have not.
This Thursday it was learned that Russia has banned the export of 200 types of products , including telecommunications, agriculture, technological and electrical equipment. In total, some 48 countries will be affected, including the United States.
fast food and drinks
Although giants in the sector, such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, announced after harsh criticism the suspension of their operations in Russia, other companies such as Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC keep their restaurants and stores open.
Yum Brands, the company that owns KFC and Pizza Hut, however said it had halted further investment in Russia for the time being.
The company has about 1,000 KFC outlets and 50 Pizza Hut restaurants, most of them franchises.
Yum Brands said that while it will not suspend its activities, it will channel “all profits from operations in Russia to humanitarian efforts.”
For its part, Restaurant Brands International, the company that owns Burger King, also said it will redirect profits from its more than 800 franchises in Russia to humanitarian activities .
The company also noted that it will allocate three million dollars to support Ukrainian refugees and said that all people fleeing the country will receive vouchers for free hamburgers.
The world’s largest yogurt maker, French firm Danone, has said it will not make new investments in Russia but will continue to sell dairy products, bottled water and baby food in the country .
“It is very easy to get carried away by demagogic positions and black and white thinking, but in the end our reputation depends on our behavior,” Danone Chief Executive Antoine de Saint-Affrique told the Financial Times.
” We have a responsibility to the people we feed, the farmers who provide us with milk and the tens of thousands of people who depend on us ,” he added.
Danone has 8,000 workers at 10 sites in Russia.
Tobacco giant Philip Morris International was the leading foreign company by revenue in Russia in 2020. The company suspended operations in Ukraine but not in Russia.
Japan Tobacco, which has a 37% share of the Russian market and 4,500 employees in the country, also continues to operate in Russia.
Its tax payments in 2020 accounted for 1.4% of the state budget of the Russian Federation according to the company’s website. Japan Tobacco says it is “fully committed” to complying with national and international sanctions.”
British American Tobacco (BAT) has 2,500 workers in 76 offices in Russia and continues to sell cigarettes in the country where it has been operating for more than 30 years .
“BAT always complies with the relevant regulation and legislation wherever we operate, and we are in line with all international sanctions,” a spokesman told the BBC. “We continue to closely monitor the situation as it evolves.”
Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever has suspended all imports and exports of goods to and from Russia, and has halted all new investment, media and advertising in the country.
However, the company said it will continue to supply its “Russian-made essential everyday food and hygiene products” to people in the country.
Operations at the company’s sites in Moscow, Omsk, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Tula remain open. Unilever, whose brands include Marmite, Ben & Jerry’s, Domestos and Dove, employs 3,000 people in Russia .
Nestlé, which made $1.7 billion from Russian sales in 2020, has six factories in Russia that make snacks and drinks.
The company says it has “business continuity plans that can be activated as needed.”
“The safety and security of our employees remains our highest priority. We will not speculate on possible sanctions.”
Russia is the second largest market for automaker Renault and accounts for around 12% of this company’s revenue, around US$5.5 billion.
The French government currently has a 15% stake in Renault and is its largest investor in terms of voting rights.
The French company has not commented and has not responded to the BBC’s request for comment.
In response to the letter and tweet from Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov calling on the company to leave Russia, Japanese conglomerate Hitachi said it “continues to monitor the situation closely.”
Hitachi added that it had stopped “operational activities in affected areas” . It did not specify whether these areas were related to production in Russia or its plants in Ukraine.
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In his tweet, Fedorov noted: “Day 13 of Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine! I urge @HitachiGlobal to stop supplying goods and services to Russia as their tanks and missiles kill peaceful Ukrainians.”
Hitachi said in a statement: “At this time, our top priority is the safety and health of our staff and their families. As a result of the current situation, operational activity in affected areas has been halted.”
The Carlsberg Group decided to immediately suspend new investments in Russia, as well as exports from other Carlsberg Group companies to the Baltika Breweries company in Russia.
Carlsberg took control of Baltika, Russia’s biggest beer brand, in 2008 and will continue to employ some 9,000 people in the country.
“We will respect all applicable sanctions that are established and will continue to assess the situation in relation to our business in Russia,” the company said.
- BBC News World