The largest foreign manufacturer of toilet paper has left Russia

The Swedish company Essity, which produces Zewa toilet paper, Libresse sanitary towels and Libero diapers, has sold its Russian business. The buyer was Igor Shilov’s New Technologies, the value of the transaction was SEK 1.2 billion (USD 117 million).

“From the very beginning of Russia’s war with Ukraine, we were completely focused on leaving Russia. Today, we completed the sale of our company after a long and difficult process,” said Magnus Groth, president and CEO of Essity.

The company’s loss on the transaction amounted to SEK 500 million (US$ 48.7 million). This will be reflected in the financial statements for Q3 2023. Essity noted that leaving Russia will not have a significant impact on business. Over the past year, the company’s assets in the country have lost value “by about SEK 1.7 billion” ($157 million) and net sales accounted for only 2% of their total volume.

Essity is present in 150 countries worldwide. In Russia, it had three factories: one in Leningrad Oblast and two in Tula, where 1,300 people worked before the war. The company entered the country in 1994.

Essity’s departure will not be without consequences, warned Olga Sumishevskaya, co-founder of Skolkovo NextGen and partner at One Story consulting firm. According to her, Zewa toilet paper occupies a third of the Russian market, as do paper towels and handkerchiefs.

Turkish Papia and Russian Viero may try to fill the niche, although their combined share is now less than Essity’s. Large retailers are also trying to enter the market and produce products under their own brand, but questions remain about its quality, added Sumishevskaya.

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