Supermarket networks say they support Latvian producers. “Rimi” has previously declared that it is seeking to be closer to its customers, while “Maxima” reports that when marketing local goods, the shop network supports the Latvian economy as a whole. But words are not reflected in the actions.
The association of Light Industry Enterprises recently warned about the intention of supermarkets to reduce the purchase of socks and stockings produced in Latvia, forecasting that domestic products will have to look for markets elsewhere.
“Well, it's just that the market has to fight. The market needs to be fought for. Let's say, an example of socks. We are not exporting to Russia, but I am afraid we will start exporting to Russia this year or next year. Because both “Rimi” and “Maxima” refused to accept the production of our producers,” Guntis Strazds, president of the Association of Light Industry Enterprises, said.
The representatives of the “Maxima” network argue that the only producer they will not buy from anymore is Aurora because the company is in insolvency. However, from all other suppliers of Latvian goods – “Bisoks”, “Favorit” and “LION” – production will continue to be purchased.
“The suppliers – those we have already had – are also permanent suppliers. The assortment can vary, of course, depending on the season. [..] But the supply chain is stable,” Maxima Latvija representative Laura Bagātā said.
The “Rimi” network confirmed that it will no longer purchase “LION” socks produced in Latvia.
“Because we see buyers, in this case, given economic conditions, are more evaluating the price-quality relationship. This is why, for example, we are currently seeing a marked increase in demand for our private Mywear stockings, which have a very attractive price-quality ratio for the buyer,” said Inga Bite, representative of Rimi.
These socks are a Chinese product, and a pair of socks are sold at 99 cents. In Latvia, compared to China, both labor and electricity, and other resources are significantly more expensive.
Konstantīns Nariškins, chief executive of the Latvian stocking company Lion + Co Latvia Ltd, says that production costs have risen by 30-40% since the pre-pandemic period and he remains a loser against China.
“Unfortunately, we cannot compete with them in the cheap segment,” said Nariškins.
Rimi's refusal to purchase production has already forced a number of unpleasant changes to the company.
"We reduced the number of employees in the warehouse to three people, and production now works only part of the working week. Yes, there was a reduction, of course.”
The entrepreneur said that it is not planning to export stockings to Russia or Belarus, and that other supermarket networks will continue to market their products here in Latvia.
"Drogas, Elvi, Maxima, Mego, Top. There, by the way, are imports too. Yes, it can be said that the green light is given directly to stockings produced in Latvia,” Nariškins says.
According to data provided by the stores themselves, Maxima confirms that more than half of the socks sold on their network come from local suppliers, while Rimi has only about a quarter.