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Flow ends Heineken partnership over Russia war

The beer brand is yet to complete its exit from the country - prompting the Finnish festival to cut ties ahead of this weekend's event

By James Hanley on 09 Aug 2023

Helsinki's Flow Festival has unveiled a blockbuster bill

Flow Festival

Finland’s Flow Festival has announced it has ended its brand partnership with Heineken Silver due to the lager firm’s operations in Russia.

Heineken has been in Russia for 20 years and is the third largest brewer in the country, with around seven breweries and an 1,800-strong workforce. But despite announcing it is “committed” to leaving Russia, the firm is still working towards detaching itself fully – prompting Flow to cut ties ahead of this weekend’s festival.

“When we were informed about Heineken’s situation in Russia in the spring, we had discussions with the festival’s main partner Hartwall about the presence of different products at Flow and evaluated the situation together,” says Flow Festival CEO Suvi Kallio.

“Based on knowledge at that point, Heineken was to leave Russia during the spring. Unfortunately, this has not happened up to this point.

“We have reassessed the situation and come to the conclusion to end the partnership and brand cooperation with Heineken. Heineken Silver will be replaced with Hartwall’s other products at the festival.”

Amsterdam-headquartered Heineken said in April that waiting for the Russian Federation to approve the sale of its business in Russia.

“Heineken is committed to leaving Russia and we’re doing everything we can to find a suitable new owner for our business”

The Dutch brand released the following statement earlier this year: “We are shocked and saddened by the war in Ukraine. The strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people is remarkable, despite the continuing horrors that are happening in the country.”

It continued: “Heineken is committed to leaving Russia and we’re doing everything we can to find a suitable new owner for our business while taking care of our local employees.

“The situation in Russia is unprecedented and the reality for businesses with large production and manufacturing operations in the country is challenging and complex.”

Flow Festival takes place at Suvilahti, Helsinki, from 11-13 August. The event will feature around 150 acts including Lorde, Blur, Wizkid, Kaytranada, Christine & The Queens, Tove Lo, Devo, Pusha T, Caroline Polachek, Suede and Moderat.

Finland’s largest arena Helsinki Halli has been left unused since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. The former Hartwall Arena is owned by Arena Events but has laid empty since two of the company’s co-founders, oligarchs Gennady Timchenko and Boris Rotenberg, were added to the UK’s sanctions list shortly after the war began in February 2022.

Beverage giant Hartwall ended its 25-year association with the building due to its Russian ownership, while scheduled shows by acts such as Kiss, The Cure, Eric Clapton and Queen + Adam Lambert were relocated.


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