By Alexander Miller, consultant in emerging markets. Eurasia Business News – March 27, 2022

The General Director of the French retailer Auchan (in Russia it operates under the brands “Auchan” and “Atak”) Yves Claude stated that the company does not plan to close its stores in the Russian Federation, despite the political pressure in the West.

Yves Claude gave an interview with the French edition of Le Journal du Dimanche, published today. The French newspaper asked the top manager about his reactions to the words of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who accuses Auchan of sponsoring Moscow’s war machine :

“Mr Zelensky is a very courageous man whom I respect. In the context of the war that his country is experiencing, he is exemplary. But these words are unfair. It is sterile to pit people against each other. The most important thing for us is to preserve our employees and to ensure our primary mission, which is to continue to feed the populations in these two countries. We have never had any other goal. I am prepared to assume a public opinion that does not agree with us. It is easy to criticize us, but we are here, we are facing and we are acting for the civilian population.”

Yves Claude explained that the decision to leave Russia would be wrong from a human point of view. Auchan should think about its Russian employees, and must “continue to feed the population” of the Russian Federation.

“It’s easy to criticize us. But we are, we are open and doing everything possible for the civilian population” said yves Claude said. The top manager added that the company is “ready to accept public opinion that does not agree with us.”

If Auchan leaves, we are depriving 30,000 people of their job. They are employees and shareholders for 40% of them. Not to mention the impact on their families, which this decision would weaken. And our customers are urging us to stay“, concluded Yves claude.

The staff of Auchan in Russia has 30 thousand people, the number of stores in the country is more than 230. Earlier, the retailer Leroy Merlin, part of the French group Adeo, also stated that it would continue to work in the Russian market.

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Owned by the Mulliez family, Auchan operates 40 supermarkets and has around 6,000 employees in Ukraine. According to Yves Claude, the group has 231 stores and e-commerce activities in Russia.

We can see the decision of Auchan to stay in the Russian market as legitimate as the business operations of US and German companies in the Chinese market, in spite of the concerns about the protection of human rights in China.

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