Smoking them out: Cigarette giant Imperial Brands halts Russian operations
Maker of JPS and Winston cigarettes Imperial Brands has suspended all operations in Russia, including production at its factory in Volgograd, as well as sales and marketing activity.
It comes as countless Western brands boycott Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, with the likes of Apple and Netflix recently pulling the plug.
“This decision comes amid a highly challenging environment in Russia as a result of international sanctions and consequential severe disruption,” Imperial Brands said.
The British firm, which has already suspended its operations in Ukraine, said it will be supporting its Russian employees, who continue to be paid while operations are paused.
Russia and Ukraine together represented about two per cent of the group’s net revenue and 0.5 per cent of adjusted operating profit in full year 2021.
Rival Philip Morris have also joined the list of multinationals stepping back from the Kremlin state, however, unlike Imperial, it said it would scale down manufacturing rather than completely halt it.
Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Unilever have all halted investment in Russia.
Nonetheless, some major international food and drink brands including Coca-Cola, McDonalds, PepsiCo and Pizza Hut have refused to close outlets in Russia – leading to calls for boycotts from campaigners.
On Tuesday, social media users responded to brands refusing to stop trading in Russia, with has tags ‘#BoycottCocaCola’, ‘#BoycottPepsi’ and ‘#BoycottMcDonalds’ all trending on Twitter.
Last week, Ukrainian chain store Novus announced it would stop selling Coca-Cola products such as Coke, Fanta, Schweppes and BomAqua mineral water, according to the Independent, criticising the conglomerate as being “shameless” for continuing to “worth for the invaders in full strength”.
Washington Post reported this week, that while many brands can decide the fate of its branches in Russia, others such as Starbucks, Papa John’s, KFC and Pizza Hut, are owned by through franchises, which have more autonomy.