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More than a year after the start of the war in Ukraine, Leroy Merlin, a French DIY equipment giant, has announced that it wants to sell all of its stores in Russia. The Mulliez family, owner of the sign, had been singled out for having decided to stay there despite the invasion of Ukraine when other French groups had withdrawn from the start of the conflict.
This disengagement could take time, because it is the Russian authorities who must approve the cessation of activity. “ Work started several months ago in compliance with applicable regulations “, According to the press release. The stakes are high: Russia is the second market for Leroy Merlin after France. Its 113 stores in the country generate up to 20% of the company’s turnover and employ 45,000 people. Other companies like Danone or Schneider who have also asked to cease their activities have been waiting for a response for months.
This decision by Leroy Merlin comes a month after a newspaper article The world. The daily wrote in mid-February that the Auchan retail store, another sign of the Mulliez family, would have contributed to the war effort led by Vladimir Putin by collecting products intended for the Russian army in March 2022. Accusations categorically denied by Auchan, which has chosen to stay in Russia, a country where the group achieves 10% of its sales. Auchan, for its part, achieves more than 10% of its sales in Russia, for 230 stores, according to figures from mid-2022.
The choice to disengage from Russia has a cost for Western companies. The French bank Societe Generale thus separated last year from its Russian retail banking subsidiary, Rosbank. A withdrawal which had resulted in a charge of more than 3 billion euros in its accounts.
Before the war, more than 500 French companies (including 35 CAC 40 groups) operated in Russia, according to the Ministry of the Economy. Always from the same source, France was, before the invasion of Ukraine, the first foreign employer in Russia, with some 160,000 employees.