Unilever CEO says staying in Russia ‘least bad’ option
Photo: EPA

New Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher has said the British company’s decision to continue operating in Russia "in a highly constrained manner" is the "least bad" option, Reuters reported.

Earlier this month, Ukraine added Unilever to its list of ‘international war sponsors’ as it continued to pay significant taxes to Russia’s state budget.

According to Mr Schumacher, Unilever could abandon its Russian business, which the corporations frets will lead to it being nationalised "given all of the developments that have recently taken place".

"The second option is to sell the business, but the reality is, we have not found a viable solution that meets our stated objectives.

"None of the options are actually good, but the final option of operating our business in a constrained manner is the least bad and that is where we are."

Unilever is one of the world’s leading food and household chemicals companies, owning more than 400 brands, including Domestos, Axe, Rexona, Dove, Calve, Rama, Brooke Bond, Lipton, Creme Bonjour, CIF, Knorr, Sunsilk, Timotei, CLEAR, Chysta Liniya, etc. The company's products are manufactured at 280 enterprises.

Unilever employs more than 3,000 people in Russia. In 2022, the Russian business accounted for 1.4 percent of Unilever’s turnover and 2 percent of its net profit, which in 2022 increased by 24.9 percent compared to 2021 and amounted to EUR 8.03 billion. The company’s revenue increased to EUR 60.1 billion (+14.5 percent). Unilever’s sales increased in all categories, with cosmetics sales growing the most (+20.8 percent).

Mr Schumacher said Unilever had not contacted the Russian government in the wake of its moves on Danone and Carlsberg, whose stakes in Russia were de facto nationalised.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Unilever said it would not invest further in Russia and would also stop all media and advertising spending there, adding that its Ukrainian operations had also stopped.

However, it continued to supply its everyday essential food and hygiene products made in Russia to people in the country, while saying it would not take any profit from those sales. All earnings made in Russia stay there, the company said.