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French employers' group boss defends Auchan, Danone staying in Russia

16 March 2022

Danone and Auchan plan to continue business in Russia

France's employers' group chief said on Tuesday that companies such as food group Danone or supermarket group Auchan were staying in Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine as they had a responsibility to their staff and the population, reported Reuters.

"We follow the recommendations of our government which is not asking us (companies) to close down. We have a responsibility to help feed the Russian consumer and as employers, a responsibility to pay staff," Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux told BFM television, when asked about Danone and Auchan.

Overall French companies employ about 160,000 people in Russia, he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday sanctions pressure should be increased on Russia and called for a global boycott of international companies that have kept their operations open in Russia.

Danone has announced that it was suspending investments in Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine but would continue to operate its dairy and baby food business there.

Danone, which generates around 6% of its sales in Russia and Ukraine combined, controls Russian dairy brand Prostokvashino. It employs 1,000 people in Ukraine and 8,000 in Russia.

Auchan Retail employs 30,000 people in Russia and 6,000 in Ukraine. It makes roughly 10% of group revenue in Russia, which is its third-largest market after France and Spain.

On Monday a dozen activists from the EELV green party held a protest in front of Auchan headquarters in Croix, northern France, to ask the group to stop operating in Russia, BFM television and local paper La Voix du Nord reported.

Source: Reuters


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