Auchan’s CEO explained the company’s refusal to leave Russia

It would be unthinkable to leave Russia from a human point of view, said the CEO of the French company Auchan Yves Claude in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche. The words of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, who called on French companies to close down their activities in Russia, the head of Auchan called unfair.

“It is useless to incite people against each other. The most important thing for us is to keep our staff and ensure that our main mission is to continue to feed the people of these two countries. We never had another goal. I am ready to accept public opinion, which does not agree with us. It is easy to criticize us, but we are, we are open and we act for the civilian population, “said Claude.

The head of the French company noted that Auchan has been present in Russia for 20 years, employing 30,000 people.

“If we leave, we risk being expropriated and our local leaders prosecuted for fraudulent bankruptcy. And if we entrust our assets to a third party, they will be recovered by Russian capital, “said Claude. He added that leaving Russia can be imagined from an economic point of view, but not from a human point of view.

In Ukraine, Auchan stores operate in extreme conditions, but 6,000 employees “find solutions” and adjust schedules according to risks, Claude added.

On March 5, French President Emmanuel Macron advised representatives of large French businesses operating in Russia not to leave the country “in a hurry”, Le Figaro reported, citing participants in a meeting at the Elysee Palace. These included the leading French bank Societe Generale, the energy and gas company Engie, the aircraft company Airbus, the space launch operator Arianespace, the Auchan trading house, the food company Danone and others. At the meeting, Macron noted that France will continue to impose sanctions on Russia after the EU and the United States, but he advised not to leave “hastily” from the Russian market.

On March 2, the French food company Danone announced that it was not going to leave the Russian market. The press service noted that currently the main priorities are the safety of employees and maintaining the smooth running of the business. In the current environment, the company aims to provide consumers with the food they need.

Foreign companies have begun to withdraw from the Russian market or suspend their activities in the region in connection with the military operation that Russia launched on February 24 in Donbass and Ukraine. Against this background, the State Duma proposed to nationalize foreign companies operating in Russia.

Later, the chairman of VEB.RF Igor Shuvalov said that the state in terms of sanctions does not plan to seize property from investors who have decided to stop or suspend work in Russia. According to him, the word “nationalization” was used to “use not a legal term, but a stronger and sharper one in order to produce an effect”: “But, as far as I understand the discussion, there is no talk of any nationalization.”

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