Social pressure after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was so strong that many companies closed their Russian plants and there were sales for relatively low amounts. However, many brands did not care about pressure from customers, and there are those that must take time to come out.
For example, Heineken, who declared that it would completely leave Putin’s country in the spring to now start producing cola substitutes there. What is the presence of global brands on that market today?
Big brands are still in Russia
Thursday, September 22, the Polish company MSU was removed from the lists of shame of the American Yale School of Management, i.e. from the lists of companies maintaining business in Russia, and there are only four Polish companies that continue to operate there. Bydgoszcz MSU received the last money from long-term contracts in Russia in the middle of the year and no longer provides services on this market.
After aggression against Ukraine, the company ceased cooperation with Russian contractors. The company does not have any contracts that would include any cooperation with Russian entrepreneurs – Maciej Krzemiński, MSU operational director told Business Insider.
– Let us express our support and solidarity with the citizens of Ukraine by the fact that MSU has provided them with the opportunity to work in the plants it runs. There are many refugees among the employees who, thanks to quick employment, could survive the difficult period for them – he added.
On the list of shame of Polish companies there are only: the producer of aluminium and glass Canpack and the producer of special adhesives Makrochem, and on the list of less shame, i.e. suspended new investments, but the manufacturer of Polpharma drugs and dressing materials – TZMO, is still operating in Russia.
Polpharma has previously declared that it would not invest in Russia and would supply only paediatric drugs and drugs used in emergencies or in the treatment of chronic diseases to the Russian market. We got a new comment from TZMO.
– Like the American and European companies from our industry, included in the Yale list, we have significantly limited our activity on the Russian market.
Investments and marketing activities were suspended, we significantly reduced our sales to a very narrow, necessary range – products for women’s and children’s hygiene, as well as products for people with incontinence problems. Our social responsibility also includes obligations towards families, hospital patients and people in care homes around the world. We are constantly looking for the optimal solution – informs Katarzyna Czachowska, coordinator of the office of the president of TZMO.
– We are glad that our factory in Ukraine and the trade organisation are working again after a short break , and our goods for everyday necessities go to Ukrainian families – she added.
As examples from the world, and not only from Poland, show, withdrawing from Russia is not a matter that everyone wants to deal with, even despite the aggressive attitude of this country and its citizens. It is also not a quick process in some cases.
Conflicting information from Heineken
In March, Heineken announced in parallel with Carlsberg that it was withdrawing from Russia. The company announced that it was going to sell its business completely. But recent news has suggested that there may be no withdrawal of any kind.
The Russian “Kommersant” reported that the local Heineken structures at the turn of July and August registered a series of declarations of conformity for a line of carbonated soft drinks . The names of the prepared products are: Royal Cola Original, Royal Cola Zero, Tony Lemony Orange and Tony Lemony Lemon, so they could be substitutes for Coca-Cola or Pepsi drinks that have left the market. We asked the company for an explanation.
We are making good progress to ensure an orderly transfer of our business to a new owner in full compliance with international and local regulations and expect to reach an agreement in the second half of this year. In the meantime, to ensure the continued safety and well-being of our employees and minimise the risk of nationalisation, it is important that we continue our local activity, which includes a limited scope of CSD (customer service delivery – ed.), a Heineken spokesman told the Polish media.
Before the takeover takes place, the beer giant controlling Grupa Żywiec in Poland is one of the Dutch brands, next to, among others, known here: Philips, ING Bank and Aegon, which still operate in Russia. Except that the others did not declare at all that they would leave the aggressor’s market.
Let’s take a look at the list of those well-known companies in Poland that are still on the list prepared and updated by Yale School of Management analysts. Update from September 22 this year covers many brands that we encounter in stores on a daily basis. If someone was serious about boycotting, it might be difficult to find replacements.
On the list of shame, i.e. companies that have no intention of leaving the lucrative market and losing investments made there, there are, among others, big retailers.
Retail sales firms
We have Auchan-Retail and Leroy Merlin here , both belonging to the Mulliez Group, a family of French billionaires. Of this group , only Decathlon left Russia, but this is more due to supply problems than social pressure.
German Metro AG , the owner of Makro Cash & Carry stores and the manager of the ODIDO chain, only stopped new investments in Russia and reduced advertising. Another German retail tycoon, Ceconomy AG, owner of, among others Polish network Media Markt , unlisted on the Yale list, however, maintains its 15% share in the Russian M.video network listed on the Moscow Stock Exchange, the largest consumer electronics sales network in Russia.
This share is valued at EUR 43 million. In the prospectus, Economy indicates the risk of sanctions and the inability to withdraw from investments through the stock exchange, as well as receive dividends.
On Yale’s list of shame is the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is known for its AliExpress brand , and its numerous parcel machines stand in many Polish cities. Chinese companies, however, were generally reluctant to suspend or even limit their activities in Russia.
Another e-commerce giant is still present there, i.e. the South African Naspers concern, which is known in Poland for its advertising services: OLX, otodom, otomoto and the PayU payment service. It is true that the Russian company Avito, the owner of the classifieds website, was to be spun off, and Naspers was not supposed to benefit from it, but – according to Yale analysts – no action was taken to separate this activity. The Polish media asked Naspers for an explanation and are still waiting for it.
Finally, the list also includes the Italian company Calzedonia, which sells underwear and tights, with 19 stores in Warsaw, Łódź and Radom. Well, there are over 200 of these stores in Russia, so it’s not easy to withdraw.
Polish retail LPP companies (including Reserved) and CCC footwear stores managed to do this, which they paid off with losses by selling their business in Russia, although it was an important market for them.
The e-commerce industry also includes the Steam platform belonging to the American company Valve , which has not stopped serving Russian customers. Valve is also a producer of games from the Half-Life and Counter-Strike series.
Food and household chemicals
On the list of shame we also have the world’s largest producers of snacks, shampoos, toothpaste, sweets, washing powders and similar products. If you look at the list of brands, you get the impression that in some cases finding substitutes in stores is almost impossible.
These brands include French companies: Bonduelle – a producer of canned vegetables, Lactalis – a producer of dairy products, incl. under the brand name President and Danone . The latter has only decided to suspend investment projects in Russia, but continues to produce cheese, yoghurt and milk snacks there. It only decided to suspend the import of Evian water and Alpro products to Russia.
There is also the Austrian producer of Kotanyi spices , as well as the German Storck , producer of nimm2 jellies, mamba and Merci chocolates. Also the German Hochland, known for its processed cheese and cheese under the Almette and Valbon brands, only gave up further investments, but did not abandon production in Russia.
The American Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble , as well as the British GlaxoSmithkline , are fighting hard to maintain the hygiene of the Russians’ teeth , deciding only to stop new investments or advertising. They are the owners of such paste brands as: Colgate and Colodent (Colgate-Palmolive), blend-a-med and Oral-B (P&G) as well as Aquafresh, Paradontax and Sensodyne (GSK).
Procter & Gamble in Poland is still known, among others from brands such as: Pampers diapers, Ariel and Vizir powders, Lenor liquid, Always sanitary napkins, Naturella, Discreet tampons, Tampax, Braun shavers, Gillette and Venus shaving devices, Head & Shoulders shampoos, Herbal Esences and Pantene, Old Spice men’s perfumes, lotions dishwashing Ambi Pur, Fairy, Mr. Proper, Nasivin nasal drops, Vicks ointment.
Swiss Nestle decided only to suspend “necessary” imports to Russia and exports from Russia, while halting all advertising and capital investments, previously planned for the amount of 1.7 billion dollars. Nestle is a powerhouse of the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market in Poland, with brands such as: Nesquik cocoa, Winiary and Maggi spices, Nescafe coffee, Nestle Corn flakes, Cookie Crisp, Cheerios, Chocapic, CiniMinis, Lion bars, KitKat, candies Smarties, Bobo Frut baby drinks, Gerber, Nałęczowianka water, Perrier and Purina pet food.
The American giant Johnson & Johnson has only stopped recruiting patients for ongoing research in Russia, Yale analysts say. And yes, it remains unchanged. In Poland, we know J&J products such as: Listerine tooth rinse, Johnson’s Baby shampoo, Nicorette anti-smoking gums, OB and Carefree intimate hygiene products for women and Clean & Clear face lotions.
Another American company staying in Russia, although suspending new investments and reducing “unspecified types of activities” (Yale SoM term) is SC Johnson . We know this company from brands such as: WC Duck, Mr Muscle, Autan, Off! and Raid, as well as Kiwi shoe polish.
Yale’s list of lesser shame also includes the American Kimberly-Clark, known in our company for Huggies diapers and Kleenex wipes. It only suspended new investments.
The American Kraft Heinz-JBS is in the same category, informing about the stoppage of new investments as well as exports from Russia and imports to that market.
We know the Heinz brand from ketchup and mayonnaise. The company also has a domestic brand, Pudliszki, under which it sells ketchups, tomato concentrates and pickled vegetables.
And this is not the end of the American giants of fast moving consumer goods that are staying in Russia. It is still on the Mondelez-Nabisco list, which has Belvita and Oreo biscuits in its product portfolio. In a communication to Yale, he indicated that he had suspended part of the activity in Russia, although he did not specify what activity it was about.
The Italian company Campari kept the sales of its spirits in Russia unchanged , also withholding new investments. Switzerland ‘s HiPP , a producer of jar food and lenses for toddlers, has only stopped investing but is continuing its activities. Austrian Red Bull has stopped new investments and advertising, but still produces energy drinks in Russia. The French Yves Rocher made similar decisions.
Anxieties selling firms
The biggest drug manufacturers are also on the lists of shame. We have a German Bayer , which is known, among others, with drugs such as Aspirin, Claritine, Dicoflor, Iberogast and Rennie. In Russia, he declared that he would limit unspecified types of activity.
There is also US-German Merck , which has announced a halt to investment and clinical trials, but is still operating and “actively employing workers” (Yale). It is a producer of Nasivin nasal drops, Sterimar, Cebion vitamin drops and Lysi oil.
The Swiss Novartis declared a pause in new capital investments, advertising in the media and the suspension of research. In Poland, the following brands are known from this company: Maxitrol, Tobrex and Voltaren gel drops.
Finally, we have COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers who have only stopped investment and clinical trials in Russia. It is about the American Pfizer and the British AstraZenec . The former, in addition to vaccines, produces, among others Cardiological drug Polocard, Vitamin preparations Centrum and antiviral drug Paxlovid. The French manufacturer of homoeopathic preparations Boiron took similar steps .
Yale’s list of less shame also includes Polish Polpharma , which has declared that it will not invest and supply only paediatric drugs and drugs used in emergencies or in the treatment of chronic diseases to the Russian market. It does not export “lifestyle” drugs. Polpharma is the owner of, among others brands: Polopiryna, Etopyrna, Ibufen, Acidolac and Biotebal.
The list of big shame includes producers of RTV / household appliances: Japanese Fujifilm , Slovenian Gorenje , Chinese smartphone manufacturer Oppo , Swiss household appliances manufacturer Zepter , Swiss refrigerator manufacturer Liebherr and Dutch Philips.
On the list of lesser shame are the Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo and the mobile phone manufacturers Xiaomi and Huawei . On the issue of Lenovo and Xiaomi, Chinese media wrote in May that they discreetly withdraw from the Russian market, i.e. they do not publicly admit it, but their exports to Russia dropped sharply.
They stay in Russia and do not declare any restrictions on the clothes manufacturers: Italian Benneton and Diesel and French Lacoste. The Danish shoe manufacturer Ecco has announced the suspension of new investments.
The largest fast-food chains, such as Mcdonalds, and brand managers of the American Yum! Brands Amrest has sold the Pizza Hut business, and is close to selling KFC. However, American TGI Friday’s restaurants have no intention of withdrawing.
Investments are limited (a list of less shame), but the American chain Domino’s Pizza keeps its restaurants open. In Poland, it is one of the largest pizza chains. The American brand Hard Rock Café also stays in Russia.
It is difficult for producers of building materials to give up a market where the construction of their business has lasted for years. Not everyone is as determined as the Polish Cersanit to sell it all and completely withdraw in response to the unleashed war. Manufacturers of chipboards, MDF and HDF: Swiss Krono and Austrian Kronospan have not presented any plans to limit investments in Russia. The former produces albums in Żary, Poland, and the latter in Szczecinek.
The following companies have decided to suspend the investment (a list of less shame): German Knauf (14 plants in Russia are still operating), Danish Rockwool and Swiss HeidelbergCement . In Poland, the former has five plants for plaster, gypsum boards and construction chemicals, the latter has two factories for insulation materials, and the latter controls the Górażdże group, the Polish leader in cement production.
Financial industry representatives are also heavily represented on the lists of shame. There are no plans to limit activities there, the Italian UniCredit, which controls Bank Pekao (now the PZU group) a few years ago, and the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank International, which was also withdrawing from Poland . The latter is still considering whether to leave Russia.
The suspension of development in Russia was declared by the Dutch insurer Aegon, the British insurer Aviva and the Dutch bank ING . A similar declaration was made by the largest bank in Europe, HSBC.
Hotel chains have limited traffic. It seems difficult for them to find people willing to buy a business at a decent price, because only the suspension of new investments is declared by: French Accor, American Hilton and British Intercontinental Hotels. The last two companies also closed corporate offices in Russia.
There are three more foreign airlines operating in the Russian market and have not announced any intention to withdraw. These are: Emirates Airlines (UAE), Turkish Airlines (Turkey), Qatar Airways (Qatar).
Interestingly, technology companies related to transport are not going anywhere from Russia, although they have declared certain “Russian restrictions”. It is about: French BlaBlaCar, which will only suspend new investments, and Estonian Bolt, which only announced that it would withdraw from its offer all products made in Russia and under Russian brands.
Despite the unleashed war, the automotive companies: Japanese Kawasaki, Mitsubishi and Yamaha do not intend to give up or even limit their investments from the Russian business. The French producers of car parts also remain: Faurecia and Valeo. It is interesting that the recipients of their products from Russia withdrew almost unanimously.
Waste and others
On the list of shame, there are no changes to companies that support waste management, i.e. also known in Poland: German Remondis and French Veolia. There is also the Japanese cigarette manufacturer Japan Tobacco, although this is a list of less shame, because he has declared to stop new investments and advertisements.
There is also the Hungarian MOL group that is taking over part of the Lotos stations, which Orlen was ordered to sell by the European Commission in connection with the merger.
There is also the American producer of paper and cardboard International Paper with a factory in Gdańsk. There are also companies from the German machine giant, Siemens.
There is also the Chinese technology giant Tencent , which has invested in Poland in companies producing video games: Bloober Team and 1C Entertainment (including Cenega).