As war in Ukraine escalates, WPP is has concluded that retaining its presence in Russia “would be inconsistent with our values as a company,” the first ad holding company to do so.
The group employs nearly 1,400 people across the country, and says it regrets the impact on them. In a statement, the Russian staff were described as “dedicated and valued members of our organisation” and thanked for their commitment. WPP will provide them with support and “work closely” with clients as activities are wound down.
WPP has 200 people in Ukraine, all of whom it says “have shown extraordinary resilience and bravery in the face of the horrific attack on their country.” The statement continues: “We have been inspired by their example and the outpouring of support from their colleagues in the region and worldwide. We are in constant contact with our leaders in Ukraine to provide financial and other forms of practical assistance for our employees.”
The group has partnered with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to run an emergency fundraising appeal and is also match-funding all donations by WPP employees.
Many business leaders are said to be fleeing Russia while they still can, and the list of companies that are pulling out of the country continues to grow. Nike, Apple, Ikea, and H&M have all shut down operations there, but luxury brands — while making charity donations to support Ukraine — are slow to follow suit.
Burberry and Jaguar Land Rover have quit, but many top brands are enjoying a bonanza as wealthy Russians spend while they can. Vogue Business reports that Gucci’s sales, for example, have trebled in the past week.
From the evening of March 4th, Hermes (the luxury retailer not the delivery company) will temporarily close all its operations in Russia and pause all commercial activities in the country. Bowing to pressure, Chanel, LVMH (which owns Christian Dior and Givenchy among others), Caring have announced they will suspend sales of goods in Russia.