BBC: Avon, the cosmetics giant, is still active in Russia

Luc Williams

Avon, which moved its headquarters from New York to London in 2016, began operating on the Russian market 30 years ago. The 137-year-old company is best known for its direct sales, conducted by sales representatives who demonstrate to potential customers how cosmetics, perfumes and creams work, although in recent years it has returned to selling in stores and online.

As the BBC reminds, just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Avon announced that it was suspending investments in Russia and suspending the export of its cosmetic products from Russia to other markets, including Ukraine. Avon’s owner, Brazilian company Natura & Co, stressed that it only maintains local operations to support its sales agents who depend on the business. “We believe that limiting their access to products would have a huge impact on women and children there,” it explained.

However, the BBC has found that it is still possible to register as a new sales representative for a company in Russia, with those interested being offered prizes, cash bonuses and even holidays for meeting targets. After registering online, BBC journalists received a welcome email from the Easy Start sales program and contact details for their local coordinator.

30th anniversary of operations on the Russian market

In a video posted on Avon Russia’s YouTube account to celebrate its 30th anniversary in the Russian market, senior managers describe awards ceremonies, social media management training and ways to improve sales, as well as overseas trips offered as rewards for top salespeople.

Steven Tian, ​​part of a team of researchers at Yale University who are tracking companies’ actions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said the company should be “ashamed” of itself for continuing to operate in Russia. “There is no justification for continuing to finance Putin’s war machine. There was enough time for the companies to exit in an orderly manner,” he stressed.

Have exports from Russia really been suspended?

BBC reminds that in 2004, the company opened a factory in the city of Naro-Fominsk in the Moscow Oblast, where it produces over 220 types of cosmetics and perfumes. Since its opening, over 2.5 billion pieces of this type of goods have been produced there. Avon assured the BBC that the Naro-Fominsk plant currently only serves the Russian market. At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the company told the Interfax agency that it was considering moving production to Eastern European markets from Naro-Fominsk to Poland, and – as the BBC points out – it appears to have fulfilled this commitment.

According to the BBC, when her contact placed an order with Avon in Russia in late October 2023, three of the four products received were manufactured at the Naro-Fominsk plant and one in Poland. But the contact also placed an order with Avon’s Ukrainian branch to check whether exports from Russia were indeed suspended. Five products were ordered that were previously known to have been manufactured at the Naro-Fominsk factory and all were marked as manufactured in Poland.


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