Last month, Russia began a military invasion of Ukraine – escalating the conflict between both countries that began back in 2014. In the wake of the ongoing crisis, many Western businesses, brands and federations had started pulling out of Russia​, cutting ties with the country. Visa, Mastercard and American Express​ had suspended operations; McDonald’s​ had temporarily closed all Russian restaurants; the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)​ moved its Champions League final from St. Petersburg to Paris; the Volkswagen Group​ had halted car exports into Russia and halted all production in the country; and Disney​ had paused all upcoming film releases and wider business in Russia.

In beauty and personal care, several*​ major brands and retailers had also cut business ties with Russia. The Estée Lauder Companies closed all stores and operations earlier this month; LVMH also announced the temporary closure of all Russian stores; Chanel shuttered all boutiques and suspended e-commerce; L’Oréal said it had temporarily closed all stores and would suspend investments; and Sephora stopped all brick-and-mortar and e-commerce operations in the country.

Personal care major Henkel froze advertising spend and future investments in Russia but said it would still supply essentials to Russian consumers. Similarly, Unilever suspended all imports, exports and advertising in the country but said it planned to maintain essential supplies to Russians.

‘Drastic but necessary’ moves

Lia Neophytou, senior health and beauty analyst at GlobalData, said these major decisions shut down operations and freeze investments in Russia were “drastic but necessary” ​given the evolving complications of doing business in the country, coupled with potential backlash from consumers worldwide.

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