Keeping Mulliez brands in Russia creates tension – Economics



Insults and bird names: This is exactly what Auchan, Leroy Merlin or Decathlon employees suffer from certain clients, according to staff representatives, while tensions begin to arise in the signs of the Mulliez galaxy still active in Russia.

“I hope your children die under the bombs”: A client threw this phrase at the seller of Leroy Merlin, a DIY sign, assures Bernard Vigouroux, central delegate of the FO. On Tuesday, a man with a Ukrainian flag also entered a Paris store shouting “Decathlon murderer,” according to a central elected official who internally denounces the “dividing” theme. But it is difficult to measure the extent of this hostility. “The incidents began immediately after the explosion of the Leroy Merlin store in Ukraine,” says Bernard Vigouroux on March 20, who lists “about twenty.”

Verbal attacks, calls for a boycott…

“There is a war going on on social media,” Jean-Marc Chicuto (CFTC) abounds. It’s not yet a flood of messages, but we’ve received unbearable calls for a boycott. There are also verbal attacks on employees. “The employees who received these insults are in a state of shock. It is possible that we are suffering from this. We want management to give instructions,” Bernard Vigouroux abounds. The group did not immediately comment. A knowledgeable source “Leroy Merlin” , which has “no evidence” on the subject, nevertheless believes it is “atypical behavior” because it “eats all the time”.

At Decathlon, which did not respond to requests on Monday afternoon, the attacks appear to be of less duration, but the situation is still affecting the internal social climate, the trade unionist laments. “The direction is unclear. We get a lot of calls for a boycott, and the group has asked us not to talk about anything on social media like the shop pages on Facebook,” he says. We keep a low profile. “I thought that employees would be massively inclined to stop their activities in Russia, but in fact the opposite is true: employees think first of all about their bonuses, and not about symbols,” he says.

Auchan has been heavily criticized

At Auchan, often criticized for choosing to stay in Russia, Gilles Martin (CFDT) reassures both the absence of “out of control” elements and the existence of an “employee-customer” front in the store. “I was told only one very anecdotal case. It’s very localized,” he says. Management, which issued a statement on Sunday justifying its position, declined to comment further. A source close to the group puts the phenomenon in perspective with AFP and says it is “dangerous to attach importance to something marginal”. “Our job” is to “meet the basic food needs of the civilian population,” Auchan said Sunday, adding that the group retains 6,000 employees in Ukraine, where it remains “one of the last Western companies” to be present.

“But the risk of customer aggression against colleagues will increase if we do not relay everything that the company assumes,” warns the trade unionist at home. “This company is used to keeping a low profile about what it does. She is invited to talk more about the solidarity actions she is undertaking. It is important that the population understands,” he analyzes, pointing out that 150 people, Ukrainian employees and their families, have just been taken into the care of the group and sent abroad.

Ukrainian employees are alarmed

It’s the same at Leroy Merlin, which arranged for the transfer of 400 people, says Jean-Marc Chicuto, who explains the tension in the stores with “lack of communication with the companies.” We must “remain calm to know how to explain our position and maintain greater internal solidarity,” said Philipp Zimmermann, general manager of the DIY brand, in an internal video message.

An intervention that occurred after the position taken by the Ukrainian employees of the brand. Within a week, they appealed to the brands of the Mulliez Family Association (ASM) present in Russia with a request to stop their activities there.

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