(Bloomberg) --

Imperial Brands Plc has suspended all its operations in Russia, following an exodus of major U.S. and European consumer brands in recent days. 

The company, which sells Kool and Gauloises cigarettes, said Wednesday it’s halting production at its Volgograd factory as well as all sales and marketing in the country. Employees will continue to be paid.

Imperial is the first major tobacco company to stop operating in Russia, which may put more pressure on bigger rivals like Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco Plc to follow. International sanctions have led to severe business disruption, making it challenging to operate in Russia, Imperial said. 

The company counts about 1,000 workers in Russia. Russia and Ukraine make up around 2% of its total sales. 

Imperial already suspended operations in Ukraine.


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