McDonald’s became the symbol of glasnost in action 30 years ago when it opened its first restaurant in Moscow. But after temporarily shutting down more than 800 restaurants following the invasion of Ukraine, McDonald’s has decided to leave Russia altogether.
The process of selling its Russian business has now been initiated, per a report from the Associated Press, with McDonald’s confirming in a statement it is currently seeking to sell off “its entire portfolio” in Russia to a local buyer after more than three decades in the country.
“We have a long history of establishing deep, local roots wherever the Arches shine,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said Monday. “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.”
Russia’s war in Ukraine and the resulting “unpredictable operating environment” are both cited in Monday’s extended corporate statement as having inspired the decision, which follows a company announcement from March regarding what was then expected to be a temporary closure of restaurants in Russia. At the time, multiple companies made similar announcements, including Starbucks and Coca-Cola.
Speaking further on the newly announced exit from the Russian market and the company’s pursuit of a portfolio buyer, Kempczinski said Monday the decision was made “extremely difficult” due to the aforementioned dedication of regional employees.
“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,” Kempczinski said.
Though McDonald’s will be retaining its trademarks in the country, the company said Monday it will start “de-Arching” restaurants in Russia while working to make sure current employees of affected McDonald’s locations have the option of employment with through the eventual portfolio buyer.
McDonald’s had 847 restaurants in Russia at the close of last year, according to an investor document.