MCDONALD’S has announced it is selling all of its Russian branches in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The fast-food giant, which first opened in Russia 30 years ago as the Soviet Union crumbled, has 847 stores in the country, employing some 62,000 people.
A number of other Western companies have agreed to sell their Russian branches or hand them over to local managers following the heavy sanctions imposed on the country in the wake of mad Vlad’s invasion.
Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Starbucks were among the firms that pulled out of Russia in the early weeks of the war.
Other major companies which have either suspended their services in Russia or pulled out of the country include Apple, Disney, H&M, Ikea, Netflix, PlayStation, Spotify and TikTok.
McDonald’s says it will ensure its employees in Russia are paid until the company is sold, and that workers will have future jobs with any potential buyer.
Unlike other big fast-food brands in Russia that are owned by franchisees, including KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King, McDonald’s owns 84 per cent of its Russian locations.
Russia accounts for nine per cent of McDonald’s worldwide revenue and three per cent of its operating profit.
Leaving the country is expected to cost the company around £1 billion.
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The chain opened its first branch in Moscow’s Pushkin Square in 1990, as 30,000 people queued up to have their first Big Mac.
However, because of low Russian wages, it was a luxury in the country at the time.
One customer said at the time: “We certainly could not afford to eat here every day. This is a high-class restaurant by our standards.”
In a statement, the company said: “The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable.”
Continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable
The company said it was looking to sell the restaurants to a local buyer, but will continue to retain the trademark.
It said it was “pursuing the sale of its entire portfolio of McDonald’s restaurants in Russia to a local buyer,” adding that existing outlets there would “no longer use the McDonald’s name, logo, branding, and menu, though the Company will continue to retain its trademarks in Russia”.
Chief executive Chris Kempczinski said in a statement: “We’re exceptionally proud of the 62,000 employees who work in our restaurants, along with the hundreds of Russian suppliers who support our business, and our local franchisees.
“Their dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s make today’s announcement extremely difficult.
“However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values. And our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the Arches shining there.”
He added that “it’s impossible to predict what the future may hold,” as he said that McDonald’s was not saying “goodbye” to Russia, but merely: “Until we meet again.”
When McDonald’s announced it was closing its Russian restaurants in March, one devastated fan stocked up his fridge with 50 burgers.
Others tried to make some money by selling McDonald’s food on auction sites.
One advert for a “still warm” full meal consisting of a double Big Mac, a double royal, two large portions of chips, 18 McNuggets, and mozzarella dippers was on sale for £255.
Another distraught fan chained himself to a McDonald’s branch in protest in a bid to stop it from closing down.
The man, reported to be Luka Safronov, was filmed staging his protest just hours before the fast-food giant was due to shut its doors.
Footage reportedly showed the angry Russian shouting: “Closing down is an act of hostility against me and my fellow citizens!”
Sanctions on Russia have also made it illegal for US, EU or UK companies to serve some of the biggest Russian businesses including the banks Gazprombank, Sberbank and VTB.
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