“We have joined the world in condemning aggression and violence and we pray for peace,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a statement announcing the “temporary closure of restaurants and a pause in operations” in Russia, joining hundreds of international companies who suspended activity in the countryside.
McDonald’s is present in Russia in 850 sites, with approximately 62,000 employees, in addition to “hundreds of local partners”, including suppliers and producers, underlines the document.
Contrary to what happens in other markets, where the general option is the franchising of the brand, operates directly in Russia, managing 84% of restaurants with the seal, refers to CNN, citing account reports from last year. These are joined by 108 restaurants in Ukraine, also operated by McDonald’s. The two markets, it is pointed out, represent 9% of the company’s financial results.
At the same time as it announces the suspension of operations, a decision which follows campaigns on the networks to pressure for this decision, McDonald’s guarantees that despite the closure of the company, it will continue to pay wages. “This includes the continuation of the payment of wages to all employees” in Russia, he assures. “We serve millions of Russian customers who rely on McDonald’s every day. In the more than thirty years that McDonald’s has been operating in Russia, we have become an essential part of 850 communities”.
AT Communication sent to employees and shared in the to place of the brand, CEO Kempczinski also points out that the company “provided immediate financial support” to its workers in Ukraine. “We continue to pay the salaries of our Ukrainian employees in full and have donated $5 million to our employee relief fund,” he said, adding, “We continue to support the relief efforts by the International Red Cross in the region”.
According to the manager, the support of the entire McDonalds universe is more comprehensive, however: “In Poland and many other markets across Europe, our system has literally opened their homes, their hearts and their restaurants”. Through the company-linked Ronald McDonald Foundation, mobile assistance was sent to the “Polish-Ukrainian border to provide medical care and humanitarian aid to families and children”. Additional support will be “on the way to Latvia”.
In Ukraine, the same system helps “distribute medical supplies and provide humanitarian aid throughout the country, and its programs are being reorganized for use by hospital staff.”
McDonald’s is an iconic image of the opening of the Soviet era; indeed, it even happened just before the end of the USSR. The first restaurant opened in Moscow on January 31, 1990 (the USSR was officially dissolved at the end of 1991) and was the first foreign restaurant business. A sign of openness, from its inception, it has become the sign of consumer appetite in the Western world, here in the form of fast food. 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.
“It was the new wind that suddenly blew, the crowd was there saying ‘Ooooh, McDoonalds’, Oh, it’s Macdooonald’s!” Something from the West. Something amazing. Everyone was in line for something amazing,” recalls Regina Cherepkova, a Muscovite who called back that day to a report from Euronews on the occasion of the restaurant’s 30th anniversary. “It was a real revolution. A wind of change with a hamburger taste,” says the channel’s journalist.
After much pressure, other brands have confirmed that they will also suspend their activity in Russia. These include Pepsi, Coca-Cola and the Starbucks chain. In the case of the coffee chain, there are about a hundred stores with the brand, but under franchising. The company, however, through its CEO, confirming in communicated the suspension of activity in the country, announced that it would support the approximately 2,000 employees in question. “We condemn Russia’s horrific attacks on Ukraine,” said Kevin Johnson. “Our hearts go out to all those affected,” he concludes.