Another well-known Western brand is leaving Russia. This time, the German company Henkel, which is popular with us, is a manufacturer of household chemicals, without which it is difficult in the household (and not only) households.
Back in early March, its owners put a brake on new investments in their enterprises on our land, as well as advertising campaigns in the state media, and all sponsorship activities.
And now, after a month and a half, Henkel decided to completely stop working in our country. What became known last Tuesday from a statement Carstena Knobelthe general director of the company.
This German concern was one of the first to come to our country in its time, making women happy first of all, of course, with high-quality preparations for washing, cleaning, as well as cosmetics. Men were not forgotten either, having discovered Moment, Loctite adhesives, dry building mixes (However, let’s be honest – many goods were produced by us, only under other brands. The Germans made competent branding, improved packaging, logistics, labor organization, added some technologies – ed.)
For thirty years, the company has thoroughly settled on our land, opening eleven factories in different regions – from the Leningrad region (Tosno) in the North-West to Perm in the East and Stavropol in the south. Her income in the Russian Federation, according to the authoritative Financial Times, averaged 4.5% per annum. Hundreds of millions of euros have been invested in the development of existing production facilities. Only last year, and only at one plant – in Tosno – 5 million in European currency was allocated for the launch of the second line for the production of hot melt adhesives.
The new project was supposed to increase the total capacity of the plant from 20 to 25 thousand tons per year. The total profit figure of the Russian subsidiary Henkel Rus LLC for 2021 amounted to 95.137 billion rubles.
As soon as it became known on Tuesday about the decision of Knobel and K * to leave Russia, people rushed to the shops. In St. Petersburg, by the evening, in some popular hypermarkets in the city center, it was no longer possible to buy, for example, Persil washing powder. Despite the fact that the price of a 9 kg package has tripled compared to the one in the morning!
I won’t say anything about building mixtures, but Moment glue, especially small tubes for some reason, was also quite actively dispersed among buyers and rose in price before our eyes. The same story in Moscow. As a good old metropolitan acquaintance told the SP correspondent, his wife, who is usually not inclined to buy everything at once, remembered how she boiled laundry in a basin on the stove for hours, could not resist, and literally snatched, almost the last, 6-kilogram package German powder. For a fragile woman of silver age, a real feat! ..
What is behind this excitement – our usual reinsurance, “born” in the years of chronic shortages? Or can we really be left without quality household goods? Good things, as you know, you get used to quickly. And Henkel is famous primarily for its quality. In the second – a long line of products offered for production, for every taste and even color.
But maybe our fears are exaggerated? And it is not so easy for the company itself to curtail its work, after all, there are eleven enterprises with a total number of workers of more than one thousand people. Here, as it were, not to remain in the loser.
I call the personnel department of one of the two Tosno factories of the concern to find out about the situation first-hand. The plant that specializes in the production of synthetic detergents and adhesives. The Germans once invested $18 million in it. No one answers the call on one of the phone numbers. Two more numbers from the public rooms do not seem to exist at all, judging by the characteristic beeping. Meanwhile, on the company’s website, with reference to the deputy head of the chairman of the government of the Leningrad region for economics and investment Dmitry Yalov In the evening of the same Tuesday, a message appeared that it would continue to work. “Henkel has notified the regional government of the sale of its assets in Russia,” the official said directly. — During this period, the plant in Tosno will continue to work as planned. We are in touch with the management of the enterprise, the most important thing is that the company retains employees, today it is about 240 people,” said Dmitry Yalov.
With the help of St. Petersburg colleagues, we managed to contact a resident of Tosno, whose wife and mother work at this chemical plant. As he said, most of the employees there are connected by family ties. The town is small, with work not that bad, no, there are enough enterprises, but Henkel, unlike others, is regularly paid wages. True, they tear the workers “all the skin”, sometimes they don’t even go to the toilet, so as not to coordinate their absence with the master literally up to a minute. And so – modern technologies, harmfulness thanks to them, is minimized. What will happen after the Germans leave? This question, the man told me, no one will answer now. Maybe the provincial government will buy it. This is all hope. Maybe it will “bend”, as it once did during perestroika …
We are considering, we add from ourselves, one more option. Namely, the change by the Germans of the legal name of the enterprise in order to hide their participation in it. How did the Finnish bakery concert Fazer, which in March changed the name of the Russian “daughter” to LLC “Hlebny Dom”. In favor of what – not a complete, let’s say, the departure of the Knobel team from Russia: their supplies to the Russian market of household goods and personal hygiene are not canceled, and even, on the contrary, it is planned to increase under the motto “ordinary people should not suffer because of politics” .
However, is it worth worrying so much about Henkel? It is not just them, one must think, that the household chemical preparations we need are limited. I looked into the profile store on Wednesday morning. The shelves have become more spacious, but not empty. At least for now. Among the washing powders there are those that, according to the label, are produced in Moscow. However, in very small print on the same label is the main owner – an American company. There are also products of the St. Petersburg company.
“Our company is purely Russian,” one of the specialists from the supply department answered the call to “SP”. “Sales are going on, but not as much as we would like, Western goods are interrupting them.
“SP”: – You produce a very good bleaching powder. Have used it several times and am satisfied with the results. If only they would bet on it, increasing production!
– What are you talking about? How can we increase anything if, compared to the German one, our enterprise is an order of magnitude poorer? They are constantly evolving, and we work the old fashioned way, just slightly adjusting the production process. This is because the priority in our city, and indeed in Russia, since the 1990s, has been given to foreign companies. They have benefits and various other bonuses, just come and work. And they remember us at best according to the residual principle, and even then, when we ourselves remind.
Expert “SP” comments on the situation Dmitry Solonnikov, Director of the Institute for Contemporary State Development.
“SP”: – What do you think, Dmitry Vladimirovich, will our chemical production be able to provide the domestic consumer with quality products, at least in terms of household goods?
– The vast majority of our enterprises in all sectors of the economy did everything to integrate into European and American production. Instead of developing it ourselves. Even raw materials were bought abroad, not only the necessary components, despite the fact that we have more than enough of our own, almost the entire periodic table. All that was needed was to start development.
“SP”: – Did the pro-Western economic policy of the Kremlin in the 1990s-2000s justify itself?
— For a period of time, yes. Quality goods came to us, filling stores to the brim. The population actively acquired them, it was enough. Now this will be difficult for a while. It will take more than one year to have their own products, including household chemicals, that are not inferior to Western counterparts. Serious adjustments will be required in the work of the authorities, as well as in the organization of economic processes. Should have started yesterday…
“SP”: – The return of Western companies in the Russian Federation, in principle, is it possible? Businesses have their own laws. The EU is already breathing heavily without many of our exports…
— Return is possible. Provided that Russia admits its defeat in the military operation in Ukraine, it will pay reparations to it. In addition, it reorganizes its political system. Transfer control of its nuclear forces to the Pentagon. Do you want that?
You can already hear talk about ending the SVO ahead of schedule, without solving its main tasks. And if you continue the operation, then definitely to the end. Until victory. And this will be a completely different matter. Therefore, the prospects for the development of the country.