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May 16, 2023

Pernod Ricard exits Russian market after succumbing to external pressures

MRA says it was an ‘outrageous idea’ to restart exports to Russia

Pernod Ricard has ceased all operations in Russia after facing increasing pressure from the Moral Rating Agency (MRA) to exit and not backtrack as it previously announced.

The MRA was set up after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, it investigates, rates and exposes the extent to which the world’s largest corporations are involved with Russia.  

It condemned the liquor company for backtracking into Russia and for ‘swimming against the moral tide’.

In April, the liquor giant said that while it ‘utterly condemned’ the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the reality of exiting Russia was both ‘complex and extremely challenging.’

The statement said: ‘Our commitment to protect our colleagues in the region has been the guiding principle of the difficult choices we have made, and we continue to work hard to find the best solution to this difficult dilemma.’ 

As a result, Pernod Richard announced to shareholders this week it would stop distributing its portfolio in Russia, a process it anticipates ‘will take some months to complete’.

‘Outrageous idea’

However, the $59 bn conglomerate will continue to pay Russian staff in a bid to retain its position in the market in case operations commence in the future.

Mark Dixon of the MRA, says it was an ‘outrageous idea’ to restart exports to Russia. ‘Pernod Ricard’s climbdown in the face of a public outcry is a lesson for other companies – no one should be tempted to do the same.

‘Since we attacked its plan to restart supplies, [Pernod Ricard] has refused to give a concrete date for a pull-out and has said it may resume operations in the future. We will be watching its actions closely to see that it does actually get out.’

In its latest financial update, Pernod Ricard saw sales for the first nine months of the year total €9.5 bn ($10.4 bn), with a broad-based organic growth of 8 percent.