Customers visiting branches of Leroy Merlin home improvement and gardening superstores in Poland have been greeted with fake price labels designed by a Polish artist to highlight the French-owned company’s refusal to stop operations in Russia.
One of them marks a 90-litre bin as a “container for a corpse”, before adding that “Leroy Merlin supports the Russian invasion”. Another, which can be placed on dustpans and brushes, says they are for “sweeping away feelings of guilt”.
The labels are the work of Warsaw-based artist Bartek Kiełbowicz, who invites visitors to his website to “do it yourself” by downloading them and sticking them on products in their nearest store.
Another of the signs, which has been affixed to price labels for hammers, says “For killing”. Another states that “By buying this product, you are financing genocide in Ukraine”.
The artist’s designs also include a Leroy Merlin logo doctored to spell “Leroy Putlin”, and an image of Vladimir Putin behind bars. Kiełbowicz has also painted an image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that has featured prominently at anti-war protests in Poland.
Leroy Merlin – like other subsidiaries of the Mulliez group, including Decathlon and Auchan – has refused to reduce its operations in Russia, where it has a strong presence and generates 18% of its turnover. It argues that closure would amount to “premeditated bankruptcy” and that it has a responsibility to its staff.
Protests have taken place in Poland in recent days calling for a boycott of the retailer’s 75 branches, which employ 13,000 people, as well as other chains continuing to operate in Russia since the invasion.
Activists have displayed images of victims of the war and signs declaring that the firms have Ukrainian “blood on their hands”.
Main image credit: Bartek Kiełbowicz/Facebook
Ben Koschalka is a translator and the assistant editor at Notes from Poland. Originally from Britain, he has lived in Kraków since 2005.