IKEA’s Decision To Pause Operations In Russia Could Encourage More Retailers To Do The Same

Posted on March 3, 2022 by Christena Garduno

This article was originally published on Forbes

Swedish retail giant IKEA said today they will put their operations on hold in Russia and Belarus. The company’s response to Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine creates urgent issues and questions for U.S. and other foreign retailers who have stores in Russia: Will they pause or shutter their operations to protest that country's invasion of Ukraine? If not, why not? 

How, when and if they respond could create crisis situations for McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, Papa John’s and others who have thousands of stores throughout Russia. Their failure to respond quickly to the escalating war in Ukraine could trigger boycotts or other protests by consumers and investors.

Advice For Business Leaders

‘Set Up Contingency Plans’

Christena Garduno is chief executive officer of Media Culture, a multichannel brand response media agency. She said, “The way brands respond to crises varies depending on the industry and their operation.

“Most manufacturing brands with plants in Ukraine have halted their operations and implemented contingency and risk management plans. This is a good lesson for businesses to set up contingency plans and risk management measures for different crisis scenarios such as war, natural disaster, pandemic, etc.”

‘Start Building Scenario Plans’

“It is high time that brands and marketers start building scenario plans. During this crisis, marketers must flex their strategies by considering different hypothetical business scenarios likely to emerge if the war escalates,” Garduno counseled.

“The Russia-Ukraine war is a humanitarian crisis with an economic and cultural impact. Organizations doing business in Ukraine and Russia should rethink their plans and flex their strategies based on evolving business conditions. Multinational companies have established adaptability and flexibility in their strategies to mitigate a volatile macro-environmental situation. Businesses should learn from these multinational companies and consider doing the same to their strategies,” she observed.

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