In recent days, global consumer brands like Apple, Nike, IKEA, and H&M all declared they were ceasing operations in Russia in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine. Notably missing from this list were American fast-food chains, which operate hundreds of thousands of locations in Russia. Among them, global giant McDonald's stood as a glaring holdout.
But facing mounting public pressure to take a stand, the chain finally announced it will be shuttering all 850 restaurants in Russia for the time being. In today's memo circulated to employees and franchisees, and later published on the chain's website, CEO Chris Kempczinski called the situation "extraordinarily challenging," but stated the move is aligned with the core values of his company.
For more, check out Here's How McDonald's and KFC Are Helping In Ukraine.
"Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine. Years ago, when confronted with his own difficult decision, Fred Turner explained his approach quite simply: 'Do the right thing.' That philosophy is enshrined as one of our five guiding values, and there are countless examples over the years of McDonald's Corporation living up to Fred's simple ideal. Today, is also one of those days," read part of Kempczinski's letter.
McDonald's opened its first restaurant in Russia in 1990, and the territory currently accounts for 9% of its global revenues, according to The New York Times.
The closures will impact 62,000 Russian employees as well as numerous suppliers and food producers, not to mention millions of customers. Acknowledging the impact of this decision, Kempczinski said the chain is "prepared to support all three legs of the stool in Ukraine and Russia," and will continue to pay all Russian employees a full salary.
The company has continued paying salaries to Ukrainian employees after all operations in the country were halted on February 24 due to safety reasons. Furthermore, it has been providing aid in Ukraine through food donations, a $5 million donation to the Employee Assistance Fund, and by deploying its Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) mobile units to the country's Polish and Latvian borders.