Wholesale giant Metro AG has said that it has 'no control' over its Mariupol outlet in southeastern Ukraine, amid reports that Russian forces are using the store to distribute food to the population.
Satellite images have shown hundreds of people gathering in lines outside the store in the besieged city, which has holes in its roof due to military strikes.
'Currently, Mariupol is cut off and exposed to fierce Russian attacks," Metro said in a statement. 'Metro currently has no control over the wholesale store there, and no way to influence what is happening. In the rest of the country, Metro continues to try to keep the wholesale stores open to supply people with food.'
Images of Russian authorities taking control over the Metro store in the city have been shared on social media – however the validity of these can neither be confirmed nor denied.
Edinaya Rossiya, the ruling party of Russia, opened a «humanitarian centre» in Mariupol. It is located in Metro grocery store. That’s convenient: one can just give away what’s left in the store and say it’s an assistance from Russia ;) pic.twitter.com/E3oLay2SDu
— UkraineWorld (@ukraine_world) March 25, 2022
On a pan European basis, the wholesaler has developed a series of collaborative initiatives aimed at supporting employees, their families, and refugees under the banner of 'One Metro'.
The group has kept its wholesale outlets in Ukraine open, in order to maintain food supply chains, while also maintaining payments to employees that are either called up to military service or are forced to flee from their home town.
Metro's Russian Operations
Earlier this month, Metro noted that it was continuing to operate in Russia, following a 'careful internal review'.
In a statement, the group said that it 'has responsibility for the 10,000 colleagues there, and many people buy their food from us. We are keeping a close eye on further developments and stand by the side of decision-makers in business and politics who are seeking a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine.'