European chains Metro, SPAR still active in Ukraine, Russia

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A lag of German wholesaler Metro flutters in front of a store St Augustin near Bonn

BERLIN – German wholesaler Metro and Dutch food retailer Spar International BV said on Wednesday they are still operating in Ukraine and Russia, keeping stores running either by reducing opening hours or paying salaries through international banks.

SPAR said 95% of its stores located in western Ukraine continued to operate, albeit with restricted hours, while Metro said 21 of its 26 Ukraine stores were open.

A SPAR spokesperson could not provide details about stores in east Ukraine that has felt the brunt of Russia’s invasion, but said they were facing supply chain challenges.

SPAR said it operates a combination of company-owned and independently operated stores in Ukraine numbering 68 in total.

“The primary concern of SPAR Ukraine is of the safety of both their employees and customers,” the company said, echoing similar sentiments from Metro, which employs 3,400 people in Ukraine.

The German wholesaler added that none of its employees had been injured in the conflict and that it had evacuated employees and their families from its store in Mariupol on the border with Russia, which was closed due to security reasons.

In Russia, SPAR and Metro said they continued to operate business as usual, with the latter paying salaries and suppliers via international banks not affected by sanctions imposed since the invasion of Ukraine.

The company said it feels responsible for its more than 10,000 employees in Russia, a Metro spokesperson said, adding: “These people have no personal responsibility for the aggression against Ukraine.”

Metro, which has 93 stores in the country, did not go into more detail but said the move to pay employees through international banks was not new.

Global brands, including Boeing and BP, have said they are exiting or suspending operations in Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

($1 = 0.9029 euros)

(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi and Siddharth Cavale; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Elaine Hardcastle)


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