How businesses in Lviv react to the news about a possible Russian invasion

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Private schools and restaurants are conducting first aid courses, IT specialists are creating strategies to relocate their specialists, opening a corporate line for psychological support, developers are looking for new markets to buy materials and ponder how to deal with their increasing cost. Lviv Now found out how business in Lviv reacts at a time when everyone is preparing for a new Russian invasion.


The hospitality industry is hospitable, but prices may rise

Emotion Holding «!FEST» has dozens of restaurants and cafes, as well as two private schools, a hotel and apartments. It was founded by three Lviv residents Andrii Khudo, Dmytro Gerasimov and Yurko Nazaruk in 2007. Today, the company employs more than 2,000 people. 

«Business is working. Over the last week, there has been an unexpected increase in sales,» Andriy Khudo wrote on his Facebook page.

Lviv has become quite popular. Due to the deteriorating security situation, the embassies of Australia, Canada, the United States and Germany moved here from Kyiv. People from other regions are also looking for shelter here.

The company says that information about a possible full-scale war with Russia has not harmed the case, but suggests that the economic consequences will still be felt later. Currently, Emotion Holding plans to open a new restaurant in Poland, expand the school on Kleparivska Street in Lviv and complete an apart-hotel on Rynok Square.

«We continue to drive in business: a new bar project in Lviv and a restaurant project as well. We had unexpected sales growth over the last week. Another location in Poland is being negotiated. We are expanding our school on Kleparivska Street in Lviv. We are actively working on another hotel project in Lviv. Development is also relevant, Lviv is now in trend, apartments are in high demand. We keep calm, increase productivity,» – says Andriy Khudo.

The company also adds that the temporary hype about housing or other services will not provoke a rise in prices, explaining that they are affected by the cost of energy or rising prices for some goods.

Ralso: No panic but staying alert. How business in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, continues amid threats

«!Fest» did not discuss what it would do if a full-scale military invasion began, saying that there were enough protocols. However, they reported that they conduct fire safety and first aid training.

« Everyone is at work, children in kindergarten and school. « The developer does not panic 

«We work calmly. There are no reductions in the volume of work. Calmness is something that is especially needed now, so everyone will do their job in their place and everything will work. The real estate market reacted to the news of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the demand for rental housing in Lviv has grown slightly, there is little growth in the secondary market, and everything is stable with the primary level,» said Nazarii Berbeka, co-owner of several construction companies in Lviv.

He is a co-owner of such companies as «Lviv Investment Company» LLC, «Impromptu» LLC, «Nova Oselya Operational Service», Ukrainian-American-English-Hungarian Joint Venture «Trident Consulting and Investment», «Nova Oselya Architects», «Operational Nova Oselya Facility Service» and «Lisky Invest Bud». Last year, Nazarii Berbek was elected to the Lviv City Council by the «European Solidarity», the party of former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.

The developer says real estate prices are rising, but this is not due to information about the war, but rather with the pandemic and logistics problems, as well as rising energy prices.

«There were interruptions in the logistics chain, which led to a shortage of some types of goods. For example, in September, the cost of glass rose by more than 200%, and the rise in prices was due to higher gas prices,» – Nazarii Berbek said.

He also says that developers have a problem due to the shortage of ceramic bricks.

«Today in the Lviv region, all factories engaged in the production of ceramic bricks have stopped, it’s because of the high price of gas. So we have problems with the supply of bricks. The value of the real estate has risen even earlier, and this is not due to demand,» – he said.

Nazarii Berbek says that the market reacts quite calmly, sales are not high. Probably, he assumes, it’s because people are a little confused by the information about the war. He says he does not panic, doesn’t plan to go anywhere to wait, and does not send his family from Lviv.

«I didn’t send anyone out, everyone is at work, children in kindergarten and school, I’m also in Lviv. Now, it is extremely important to be vigilant and calm, and still united. It was strange for me to read information about dozens of charters from Kyiv, because a few days before my friends said that Forbes in Kyiv organized a meeting of big business, socially responsible, there were big manufacturers, marketplaces, representatives of IT companies, banking sector and everyone said that they will stay in Ukraine,» – he said.

Round-the-clock psychological support and resistance to cyber attacks

Yaroslav Lyubinets, co-founder and chairman of SoftServe’s board of directors, founded the company in 1993 with his friend Taras Kitsmey. In Lviv, SoftServe has 12 offices and more than 4,000 employees, and the company also has offices abroad. In total, the company employs more than 10,000 people. 

Read also: Ukrainian-Texan tech firm to transform Lviv prison to global tech campus

Yaroslav Lyubinets says that the IT industry is not changing due to the threat of a new military invasion. However, in their company, the crisis team has developed an action plan for various cases, and the team that counteracts cyberattacks works around the clock.

«One of the scenarios involves the relocation of workers from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Dnipro, Odesa and other cities in the eastern regions of the country, this is in conditions of the highest danger. We are not talking about mass relocation abroad. The company has a crisis team, whose task is to ensure preparedness for various challenges and crises, such as pandemics and lockdowns, energy threats or political instability,» – he said.

Yaroslav Lyubinets says that this «information storm» did not affect the volume of orders. The partners ask about the situation in Ukraine, he says, they do not stop cooperation, so they show their support.

«Most of our partners understand that the best way to support us and our employees in Ukraine is to keep working as usual. In addition, SoftServe has long been a company with global operating capabilities located not only in Ukraine. We are all in a state of uncertainty and heightened monitoring of the situation today, but under any circumstances, business must run smoothly,» – he said.

The co-founder of SoftServe says the company has a team that works around the clock. It protects company data in cyberspace, including cyber attacks.

«Our offices use the Internet of independent and reliable providers with backup lines, most of the offices are equipped with emergency satellite communications, backup power supplies, communication infrastructure is securely protected,» he said.

Yaroslav Lyubinets adds that the key information in business is timely and truthful. «We need to distinguish between factual and clickable headlines and good analytics from viral fakes,» he says.

Also, according to him, the company will hold a meeting with a psychologist to reduce stress, as well as open a corporate hotline for psychological support.

«Every employee will be able to use it when it will be difficult to cope with anxiety their own,» he says.

At the end of January, the European Business Association conducted a survey among its companies. They found that a third of Ukrainian entrepreneurs had prepared a «Plan B» in case of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, and another 40% were actively working on such a plan. The companies also asked what factors will be most important for their business in case of an emergency.

«For most, this is a stable operation of infrastructure telecommunications, banking, ground 91% of respondents think so, complete information from the country’s leaders on all events and continuous communication – [is the most important] for 62%, stable and coordinated work of government agencies and services for 60%,» – the EBA noted.

The association called on the authorities to pay attention to the last points and have more communication with business.

It will be recalled that the intelligence of NATO member states claims that the number of Russian militants subordinate to Russian special services has increased in Ukraine. Russia may be preparing provocations with these militants to create a pretext for launching a large-scale invasion. At the same time, according to the US State Department, Putin has not yet made a final decision on the invasion. 

It will be recalled that Lviv has approved an action plan in the event of a military threat from Russia. Blood reserves will also be increased in Lviv, and city hospitals will be provided with a three-month supply of medicines and other materials in case of an emergency. Also, all utilities in medical institutions were carried out to the appropriate level, provided with water supplies and diesel generators.

Victoria Savitskaya, translated by Vitalii Holich

Photo: «Tvoe Misto», Nazarii Berbeka, LUN, Forbes

You can read a Ukrainian language version of this story here.

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Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.

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