Smurfit Kappa to exit Russia as war in Ukraine enters sixth week

Paper products company has 800 employees in the country

Dublin-based paper packing giant Smurfit Kappa said on Friday it has decided to quit the Russian market, joining a host of multinationals that have pledged to stop business in the country after it invaded Ukraine in late February.

“This exit will be effected in an orderly manner, during which we will continue to pay our employees and fulfil our legal obligations,” Smurfit Kappa said in a statement as war entered its sixth week. “Our Russian business represents less than 1 per cent of forecasted sales.”

A spokeswoman for the company said Smurfit Kappa has about 800 employees in Russia and clarified that they would be paid until the exit was completed. She was not immediately in a position to give details on timing or how the exit would be executed.

The paper and packaging group owns three plants in and around St Petersburg and it also bought a major corrugated packaging plant in Moscow in 2017. It had been targeting major growth in Russia prior to the invasion and the country being hit by a waves of sanctions by western allies.



Smurfit Kappa said it had already suspended support for its Russian operations, including any imports and exports and any short- or long-term funding, prior to the decision to quit the market.

“Smurfit Kappa stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and everyone impacted by the totally unjustified attack on Ukraine and its people,” it said.

“The group is providing, and will continue to provide, substantial humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people. We are also assisting the families of SKG employees and contractors from Ukraine as well as providing products and services to support the relief effort together with financial assistance to a number of aid agencies. We have also partnered with the Red Cross to provide funding to support their vital work.”

Scores of international companies – Heineken, Unilever, Shell, Deutsche Bank and Starbucks – have announced since the invasion that they were suspending operations in Russia or exiting the market entirely. Irish-based building materials behemoth said early last month that it had decided to exit its small operation in the Russian market.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times