McDonald’s admitted on Monday that it would sell its entire business in Russia with the aim of permanently leaving the country where it has been present for more than 32 years, thus becoming the last major Western group to leave Russian territory since the beginning. of the invasion of Ukraine.
The news was announced on Monday by the newspaper the New York Times which quotes a message sent by Chris Kempczinski, the company’s executive chairman, to the brand’s employees and suppliers. “This is a complicated, unprecedented issue with far-reaching consequences,” he wrote. “Some might argue that ensuring access to food and continuing to employ tens of thousands of citizens is the right thing to do. But it is impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. And it is impossible to imagine the Golden Arches [as letras amarelas do logótipo do McDonald’s] representing the same hope and promise that led us to enter the Russian market 32 years ago.
Cold War Stress Relief Symbol
The first McDonald’s – a symbol of the American way of life – in Russia opened in central Moscow more than three decades ago on January 31, 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a powerful symbol of the easing of Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union and was the first restaurant in fast food American to open in the Soviet Union, which would collapse in 1991.
Photographs of long lines of customers waiting for hours and hours to enjoy a McDonald’s hamburger have gone around the world and have gone down in history: on the first day, the restaurant was visited by around 30,000 people. The opening of the brand’s first restaurants was the first opportunity for millions of Russians to experience Western food (and drink), even though the cost of a burger was many times the daily budget of many Russian residents. city.
Kempczinski recalled that, years before the official opening, the 1976 Olympics in Montreal opened the door for the company to enter Russian territory. It all started when the brand allowed the Russian team of Olympic athletes to use its Big Mac Bus. “In McDonald’s history, this was one of our proudest and most exciting milestones,” Kempczinski wrote. “After nearly half a century of Cold War animosity, the image of the Golden Arches shining above Pushkin Square heralded to many on both sides of the Iron Curtain the beginning of a new era.”
Sixty-two thousand employees
The CEO of McDonald’s said he was “exceptionally proud of the 62,000 employees” who work in the brand’s 850 restaurants in Russia, as well as “hundreds of local suppliers”. “Your dedication and loyalty make this announcement very difficult.”
According to The New York Times, McDonald’s goal is to sell the company to a local buyer who will have to remove any reference to the American brand in stores. In a statement, McDonald’s said its “priorities include ensuring employees in Russia continue to be paid until operations close and retaining their employment with the potential buyer.”
In March, McDonald’s announced that would temporarily close its operations in Russia, like other restaurant chains such as Starbucks and Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut. Now he chooses to leave the Russian market altogether. As a result of this measure, Russia will incur a loss of between 1.2 and 1.4 billion dollars, according to the same note.
McDonald’s has more than 39,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. Most are franchised – only around 5% are company owned and operated. The brand’s spaces in Ukraine are also closed, but the company says it continues to pay full salaries to employees.