Kimberly-Clark Corp., the consumer-products giant that owns Kleenex and Huggies, said it will shutter its Venezuela operations after years of grappling with soaring inflation and a shortage of hard currency and raw materials.
The South American nation’s deteriorating economic situation had made “it impossible to continue our business at this time,” the company said in a statement Saturday.
The decision is likely to add to shortages that have gripped Venezuela for the past few years after the ruling socialists capped the price on many consumer basics below production costs. Desperate shoppers now routinely spend long hours in front of stores to purchase essential products ranging from toilet paper to rice. At the same time, companies face hefty losses on price-controlled goods while the products are often flipped on the black market for many times their sticker price.
The shortages have worsened in the past year after a decade of economic mismanagement was coupled with a crash in the price of oil — Venezuela’s only significant source of income.