In news that’s not entirely surprising, McDonald’s is calling it quits in Russia after over 30 years of business in the country. Axios reports that the Golden Arches has had it with with the war in Ukraine and won’t be doing business in Russia any longer. The last biggest previous turn of events was on March 8, when the company declared it would be suspending operations until the war was over, but now it’s permanent, says the company.
That’s got to come as a blow to the Russian people, or at least some of them. I feel like fast food is sometimes comfort food, and with the arguably most popular fast food chain in the world leaving an entire country, the Russian people’s options are dwindling right in front of their very eyes, as its leadership wages an unthinkable war against its neighbor.
McDonald’s is, in it’s McDonaldsy sort of way, is calling the closure a “de-Arching” of its Russian locations. (Not sure if that’s a snipe at Putin calling the Ukrainian invasion “denazification.”) While it’s keeping ahold of its trademarks in the country, it’s removing all of its branding, including its logo, menu, and name.
But what does that mean for its 62,000 employees? Well, for starters, McDonald’s is still paying them, at least until its assets are purchased. In a statement, the company said that they’ll “ensure the employees of McDonald’s Russia continue to be paid until the close of any transaction and that employees have future employment with any potential buyer.”
Chris Kempczinski, president and CEO of McDonald’s said:
We have a long history of establishing deep, local roots wherever the Arches shine. 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.
A few other chains are remaining in Russia, like Papa Johns and Subway, though not entirely by choice. Their franchise models make it impossible to shut down individually-owned locations, so local operators are able to keep their doors open. Burger King has been trying to pull out of the market, but since most of its ownership in Russia (85%) is by one man, Alexander Kolobov, the company doesn’t have much control of its name there.
McDonald’s first opened its doors in Moscow in 1990, after 14 years of negotiations, led by George Cohon, who was chairman of McDonald’s Canada at the time. Insider has a piece detailing McDonald’s history in the country, and said that when it first opened, people lined up for hours for the mere taste of a Big Mac. If Russians want another one, they’ll have to get it outside of the country, because it if the company’s willing to go this far, they may never look to come back. And honestly, I don’t blame them.