how pressure is growing on Leroy Merlin to stop its activities in Russia

“Stop selling to Russia.” This message was posted on Monday, March 21, in the Leroy Merlin Instagram account in Ukraine by employees. It’s accompaniedlink to an online petition asking Adeo, the parent company of the DIY brand, to cease operations in Russia. Ukrainian authorities have also criticized the French group for not closing its stores in Russia, where it does 18% of its global operations. A request that is now resonating in France, after the explosion of a shopping center in Kyiv. Franceinfo explains how the group, controlled by the Mulliez family (owner of Auchan and Decathlon), found itself at the center of controversy.

Exploded shopping center in Kyiv

It all started Sunday, March 20 at around 10:45 p.m., when airstrikes hit Retroville, a huge shopping center in northwest Kyiv where the brand’s store is located. “Leroy Merlin became the first company in the world to finance the bombings of its own stores and the killing of its own employees.”, accused the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

Opened in early 2020, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic, Retroville has 250 stores. Around this temple of consumption, almost not a single window or bay window survived the explosion. At least eight people were killed in the explosion, according to a preliminary official report from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the shopping center served as a warehouse for weapons and ammunition.

Elected officials criticize brand’s ‘cynicism’

on twitter a mA member of the Ukrainian parliament challenged a French company in a video posted on Monday. “People died here. Perhaps these videos will somehow influence your decision to continue paying taxes in Russia and thus finance what is happening here”– Alexey Goncharenko protests.

Before this strike article from Telegram (in English)IThe French group has already been accused of profiting from the invasion of Ukraine.. “Such companies have no moral right to exist. The hypocrisy and cynicism of how they make money is simply mind boggling. They don’t mind getting rich, so let the blood of Ukrainian children flow.”A Ukrainian MP told the British newspaper about this..

Calls to shut down in Russia multiply

On Monday, March 21, Leroy Merlin employees in Ukraine, in turn, ask for a group on Instagram, as well as other signs of the Mullier family – Auchan and Decathlon – “stop selling to Russia”. This will deprive the aggressor of the opportunity to finance” Russian offensive in Ukraine, clarifies the petition posted in connection with the publication.

Leroy Merlin claims on its website that 36,000 employees work in Russia, in 107 hypermarkets and 62 cities. In 2020, Leroy Merlin declared a turnover of 4.2 billion euros there. Thus, Russia is the second largest sales market for the brand after France. And Adeo, the holding company of Leroy Merlin, achieved a total turnover in Russia of 22.3 billion euros in 2020. Thus, more than 18% of its activities are carried out in the country.

Controversy wins hexagon

In France, radio silence is on the side of the sign. Representatives of Adeo and Leroy Merlin did not want to respond to AFP’s question. Silence that annoys Jean-Marc Chicuto, CFTC representative at Leroy Merlin. This said to myself “extremely angry” counterpart his directions. “We are outraged that the company is moving towards deep silence even within the company.he said on Franceinfo.

So far, only Decathlon, a brand also controlled by the Mulliez family, has announced that it “frozen” its activities on site for “do not expose” its 150 employees “to a situation that does not fully guarantee their safety”. Auchan at the request of AFP limited “a call for peace in the area” without further comment.

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