French retail giant Auchan won’t leave Russia

French retail network Auchan will continue operating in Russia, according to the company’s CEO Yves Claude, who said the chain store operates in the interests of civilians.

“It is useless to set people against each other,” Claude said in an interview with French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.

His comments came days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s calls for French businesses to quit the Russian market in the wake of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

“The most important thing for us is to keep our employees and ensure the fulfillment of our main mission, to continue to feed the population of these two countries,” the CEO said.

Claude added that the company’s stores bake fresh bread for Ukrainians and Russians on a daily basis, which is “vital at the moment.”

“In Russia, where the brand has been present for 20 years, we employ nearly 30,000 employees,” he said.

“We operate as a discounter and we think we can contribute in times of high inflation to protect the purchasing power of citizens.”

Claude stressed that Zelensky’s claims that French companies were supporting Moscow’s military assault in Ukraine by staying in Russia were “unfair.”